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Posted on April 24, 2017 in Divorce,Divorce Articles,Family Law

According to Reuters, Spice Girl Melanie “Mel B” Brown filed for divorce from her husband, Stephen Belafonte, in March of 2017. She cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for ending her nearly 10-year marriage to the TV producer. The couple separated in December of 2016. In court papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Brown requested joint legal and physical custody of their 5-year-old daughter.

The divorce process for the couple is just beginning. It is not known if Brown, best known as Scary Spice in the British pop group Spice Girls, and her husband had a prenuptial agreement. It is also not known if how their high-asset divorce will be resolved.

Analyzing San Diego High Net Worth Divorce: Who Owns What?

In any high-asset, or high net worth divorce, the categories of community, separate, or quasi-community often come into play when dividing up the couple’s assets. Community property is any money or property acquired during the marriage and prior to the date of separation. In San Diego, each spouse owns one-half of all community property.

Separate property is any property or money acquired prior to the marriage or after the date, the couple separates. Quasi-community property is any community property acquired during the marriage but located outside California.

Commingling is Often a Problem in San Diego High-Asset Divorces

Commingling occurs when spouses combine separate and community property. The property becomes intermingled and it is then hard to determine who own what property.

One example of commingling involves buying a house. If one spouse sells his or her two bedrooms, four bathroom house in San Diego before getting married, it is separate property. The spouse then uses the proceeds from the sale of the house to buy a five bedroom, six bathroom house during marriage. The equity in the house is commingled.

Categorizing Assets in a San Diego Divorce

During every divorce, property must first be properly categorized. Personal property in a divorce can be something that is purchased and sold or it can be something of value. Property that is bought and sold can be:

  • Car
  • Furniture
  • House 
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry

Property that has value includes:

  • Stocks
  • Bank accounts
  • Money
  • Pension plans
  • 401k plans
  • Security deposits on an apartment
  • Company
  • Life insurance policy
  • Patent

If a business is part of a high-asset divorce, property is further separated into tangible and intangible property. Tangible assets are easier for divorce attorneys to get to and assess because they are real, such as:

  • Cash
  • Machinery
  • Equipment
  • Accounts receivable
  • Inventory

Intangible property is harder to assess and difficult to get to because is is not “real,” but may produce income in the future, such as:

  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • Business relationships

Protecting Assets in a San Diego Divorce

The term “high asset” is a general term. Some may automatically believe that a high-asset divorce includes money and/or property valued at more than $1 million. In San Diego, given the high-value real estate, IRAs, stocks, and other assets, a high worth can be anything more than $100,000.

To learn more and to protect your money and property during your divorce, contact the Law Offices of Scott & Matteson Family Law by calling (858) 974-4900. Scott & Matteson Family Law is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of experience.