In the unfortunate circumstance that you and your spouse seek a divorce, there are multiple factors to be considered when dividing property and debt. A good way to start is by making a list denoting which items are separate property, which items are community property and what the market value of each item is. The Schedule of Assets and Debts will require you to do this to complete your divorce anyway. It is best for both parties to be as thorough and honest with this process as possible. Any hiding or withholding will result in serious penalties. If significant debt exists, subtract it from the total value of all assets in order to arrive at a net value to be divided between parties.
Once the Schedule of Assets and Debts is completed, both parties should compare lists in order to determine if there is a disagreement regarding which property is community or shared, or if there is a significant difference in how the property is valued. There are many problems that may arise during this process. Sometimes couples split debt by dividing the entire amount owed in half. This may not be a good idea. For instance, if your spouse agrees to pay off the debt on a credit card in order to balance out the net share, the credit card company can still go after you if your spouse misses a payment. Credit card companies are only concerned with the name on the card; they will not recognize a divorce agreement.
California is a "no fault" state. This means that any wrongdoing which occurred during the marriage, such as verbal or physical abuse and infidelity, has no legal effect on the division of property or debt. This also applies to concerns regarding child custody. If you and your spouse divide property and debt using a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and that agreement is not recognized by a judge in civil court, it will be treated as a contract and not a judgment. If a party breaches the contract, they may not be held accountable until the opposing party files a case in civil court.
Divorce is not an easy process by any means. You may first encounter problems when trying to divide property and debt. If this occurs, financial mediators may be hired to help solve any disagreements. Once an agreement is reached, there is no guarantee that both parties will honor it. If either party is unwilling to adhere to the MSA, it is wise to seek the help of an Orange County divorce lawyer. I am a certified family law specialist who has been practicing family law for more than two decades. If you are looking for the help of an experienced legal advocate, look no further than Kevin B. Gibbs, APLC.
Don't wait to secure the experienced representation that you deserve. Contact my firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.