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Division of marital assets and debts ranks among the most complicated and contentious issues in divorce and legal separation. When a couple cannot agree on who gets what, it is left up to the court to decide. If you are facing divorce or separation, contact the San Diego division of assets attorney at Scott & Matteson for experienced legal representation in a division of assets case. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-858 974-4900.
Division of assets is one of the most complicated aspects of divorce or separation, particularly in high net worth cases. It is not uncommon for one or both spouses to have an interest in keeping certain assets at the end of a marriage. Our family law attorneys have the legal knowledge, negotiation skills, and trial experience to protect your rights and individual assets during divorce or separation.
For the purpose of divorce or legal separation, assets owned by the spouses are either community or separate property. Under state law, community property and debts are divided equally between the spouses. Some couples are able to reach an agreement on how to divide their property and debts. For those who are unable to do so, the matter is decided by the court.
There is a presumption under the law that debts and assets accumulated by a couple during a marriage are community property. Property that was solely owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired by inheritance or gift during the marriage is separate property. This generally includes:
For the past 30 years, our Board-Certified Family Law Specialist has been handling the division of assets cases involving:
State law also provides that property acquired by a spouse before the divorce or legal separation is finalized but after the date of separation is separate property. The date of separation is the date that one spouse decides to end the marriage. It is not necessarily the date on which a spouse moves out of the marital home. However, there must be some act of physical separation and other actions clearly demonstrating the spouse’s decision to end the marriage.
A monetary value is generally assigned to each item of property by the spouses, or by the court if the spouses cannot agree. Appraisals may be required to help determine the value of the real property, artwork, antiques, and other items. An actuary, CPA, or other financial professionals may be needed to determine the value of retirement assets, particularly in cases when a retirement account existed before and during the marriage and after the date of separation. Our San Diego division of asset lawyers will help you sort out the details.
The American economy is filled with jobs and employees who have stock options with a company as part of his or her overall benefits and potential compensation package. When two people decide that they want to end their marriage, the process of dividing the marital estate equitably and within the community property rules of California can become very difficult in regards to placing a value on these stock options.
Basically, community property rules state that any assets acquired during a marriage should be split evenly with some exceptions, but the problem that arises is that stock options, particularly those that have not vested, are extremely difficult to quantify in terms of value. Even if certain portions of a stock option plan have vested, there is no guarantee that the current value of the stock will remain consistent.
In California, there are generally two equations that exist within customary accounting rules that can be used to place value on a stock option plan. Judges have a wide range of discretion when it comes to which equation to use, and there are several factors that are considered when analyzing this largely intangible asset, including:
There are other variables, but the court can all but force the sale of the vested portion of stock options where it’s possible in order to satisfy at least part of the division of property that’s going to be owed to the other spouse.
However, there are alternatives to incurring the cost and the risks of a battle ensuing over just what the value is of this stock option plan. Many times, the parties will work out some sort of settlement whereby one spouse gives the other some form of asset or assets in order to keep the entire stock option plan for him or herself. This can help alleviate not only a battle, but also time delays in finishing the dissolution of the marriage and the costs involved with battling this out in court.
Division of assets can be a challenging process, particularly when spouses cannot agree. Dividing the property may involve buying out the other spouse or selling the assets and dividing the proceeds. At Scott & Matteson, our San Diego division of assets attorneys have decades of experience handling divorce and legal separation with a history of favorable outcomes for our clients. Call us today for dedicated legal advocacy in the division of marital assets.