Property Division

Property Division Lawyer in Santa Barbara

Separating Can Mean Protecting What’s Yours

Your date of separation is crucial in determining which properties can and cannot be divided in a divorce. Generally speaking, the date of marriage and the separation date mark the timeframe of the marriage. Any money or property gained by a spouse within this timeframe is open to equal division in a divorce. Your date of separation can be as concrete as moving out but, as of 2017, California law permits less finite indicators such as a spouse telling you they intend to get a divorce or engaging in conduct that indicates such intention. In any case, you need to be sure you have evidence of the date of separation for it to be recognized by the court.

Not knowing your date of separation can cost you. Are you really sure? Call Morales Law at (805) 422-7966 or contact us online for help with property division in Santa Barbara.

What’s Shared Can Be Split

As a rule of thumb, if you obtained it while you were married and before the date of separation, your spouse holds a half-interest in it. This type of property, known as community property, can be awarded to either you or your spouse, or split evenly, at the judge’s discretion. For items where division is unclear or impossible, such as electronics and furniture, a judge will consider the needs and responsibilities of each spouse.

If gained during a marriage, community property can include the following and more:

  • Home
  • Pets
  • Clothing
  • Cooking utensils
  • Any personal belongings
  • Debt

What’s Separate Is Yours

Dividing up your properties and assets in a divorce can feel like highway robbery, but not everything you own is up for grabs. Separate property is recognized as property owned by a spouse that cannot be considered for division in a divorce. The clearest indicator of what constitutes separate property is when it was acquired: If you owned it before the marriage or acquired it after the date of separation, your divorcing spouse shouldn’t have a claim to it. There are cases where properties gained during a marriage can be considered separate property, but these are limited to property such as that gained through a last will and testament or gifts.

Commingling Can Complicate Things

Sometimes separate and community property can be mixed together, such as money in a bank account. Such commingling property is presumed to be community property. It may look like a ball of yarn impossible to untangle, but if a divorcing spouse can ascertain separate property from community property and prove it, he or she can claim it as such.

What about Debts?

When it comes to questions of debts in divorce, you should consider them as “property” because the sample principles apply. A debt incurred before a marriage or after separation is the sole responsibility of the debtor; likewise, the responsibility of debts incurred during a marriage are subject to equal division.

What about Pets?

In the eyes of the law, animals owned as pets are property not unlike your couch. In 2019, however, nuance was added to the law concerning pets as community property. Now – and unlike your couch – a judge can assign sole or joint ownership of a pet to the divorcing spouses, and do so by taking into account the animal’s care and the parties’ abilities to provide that care.

Reach out to Morales Law today by phone at (805) 422-7966 or online to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable property division attorney in Santa Barbara, and get the legal help you need.

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