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.
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:
- Cooking utensils
- Any personal belongings
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.