• Property Division: Who Gets What In A Divorce/Dissolution

    Following a divorce, the court must divide the property between the spouses. Before legislatures equalized property allocation between both spouses, many divorce statutes substantially favored property allocation to the wage-earning spouse. According to a Cornell University Law School publication, these statutes greatly disadvantaged women disproportionately because during the 18th, 19th, and early-20th centuries, the participation of women in the workplace was much less than it has become during the latter-half of the 20th century and early part of the 21st century. The statutes failed to account for the contributions of the spouse as homemaker and child-raiser.

    With regards to property division today in Los Angeles and Glendale family law specialists note that modern courts operate more precisely when dividing property between two parties. Courts today recognize two different types of property during property division proceedings – marital property and separate property. Marital property constitutes any property that the spouses acquire individually or jointly during the course of marriage. Separate property constitutes any property that one spouse purchased and possessed prior to the marriage and that did not substantially change in value during the course of the marriage because of the efforts of one or both spouses. If, according to top family attorneys Los Angeles property-owning spouses (or individuals) trade the property for other property or sell the property, the newly-acquired property or funds in consideration of the sale remain separate property.

    Modern division of property statutes strive for an equitable division of the marital assets. An equitable division does not necessarily involve an equal division but rather an allocation that comports with fairness and justice after a consideration of the totality of the circumstances. Recently, we spoke with Glendale divorce lawyers who explain that by dividing the assets equitably, a judge endeavors to effect the final separation of the parties and to enable both parties to start their post-marital lives with some degree of financial self-sufficiency. While various jurisdictions permit recognition of different factors, most courts at least recognize the following factors: contribution to the accumulation of marital property, the respective parties’ liabilities, whether one spouse received income-producing property while the other did not, the duration of the marriage, the age and health of the respective parties, the earning capacity and employability of the respective parties, the value of each party’s separate property, the pension and retirement rights of each party, whether one party will receive custodial and child support provisions, the respective contributions of the spouses as a homemaker and as a parent, the tax consequences of the allocations, and whether one spouse’s marital misconduct caused the divorce.

    Los Angeles family law experts tell us most jurisdictions also give the family court judge broad jurisdiction by providing judges with the right to consider any other just and proper factor. When assigning property, judges cannot transfer the separate property of one spouse to another spouse without the legislature having previously passed an enabling statute. Whether such an enabling statute exists varies between jurisdictions.


  • Divorce Advice: Assets And Property Division (Part 4 Of 4)

    When a couple is divorcing, dealing with the issue of dividing up assets and property can be a difficult and stressful process. Property division can occur in one of two ways. Often, a couple that is divorcing will decide how to divide their property and assets themselves (perhaps with the help of a mediator). If the individuals are unable to reach an agreement, the matter will go to trial. A judge will consider all of the evidence presented and will use state law to divide the property.

    There are two legal theories that govern how marital property is divided: community property and equitable distribution. In a few states, all property of a married person is classified as either community property (owned equally by both spouses) or the separate property of one spouse. In the event of a divorce, community property is generally divided equally between the spouses, while each spouse keeps his or her separate property. However, a majority of states use the law of equitable distribution, under which all assets and earnings acquired during marriage are equitably divided. In equitable distribution states, the court determines a fair and reasonable distribution that may be more than or less than 50% of any asset to either party.

    Tip #1: Take this process very seriously, as most property division agreements are final. It can be very difficult to get out of or change a property division arrangement to which both parties have agreed or a court has ordered. In most states, there is an established period of time after a court enters its decision on property division during which one of the parties can request that the court reconsider its decision, but these requests are often denied. In general, a judge will reevaluate a property division arrangement only if one spouse engaged in fraud, hid assets, or some substantial mistake was made.  If your case involves neither fraud nor a mistake but you still want to challenge the court’s division of property, your only option is to file an appeal, which can be very costly.

    Tip #2: Beware of hidden assets. There are a number of ways in which a spouse may hide, undervalue, or disguise assets. Some of the most common ways that assets are hidden include income that is unreported on tax returns and financial statements, custodial accounts set up in the name of a child, cash in the form of travelers’ checks, retirement accounts, and collusion with an employer to delay bonuses, stock options, or raises until after the property division has been finalized. It can be very difficult to find these items and get the proof needed to show the court that they exist. Litigation may provide helpful formal discovery procedures, such as depositions.  Hiring a forensic accountant or a private investigator are additional steps that can be taken to uncover hidden assets.

    Tip #3: Be forthright and honest when it comes to your own assets, and make sure you list them all on your case information statement. “It’s important to list all your assets. Just because you think your spouse may not be entitled to an asset is not a reason not to list it because when you sign the case information statement, you certify that everything is true. If there is a trial, it can be used in cross examination… To deliberately leave something out is probably one of the biggest mistakes that you can make,” explains New Jersey divorce lawyer Bonny Reiss. “If you think your spouse isn’t entitled to share in an asset, there’s a place to say why, at least in a word or two, but make sure you list the asset,” Reiss adds.

    Divorce cases involve many different types of issues, including preparing for your divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony all of which have been addressed in this series.

    For more divorce advice, refer back to Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series:

    Part 1: Divorce Advice: Preparing for Your Divorce

    Part 2: Divorce Advice: Child Custody and Child Visitation

    Part 3: Divorce Advice: Child Support and Alimony

    Liz Ryan is a Writing and Content Specialist for Lawyer Central. Visit Lawyer Central’s Divorce Resources for legal information about divorce and to find an experienced divorce lawyer. Discuss divorce and related issues on the Law Forum.

  • Top 4 Tips On Getting An Easy Divorce

    Want to learn the secrets to obtaining an easy divorce? Read the full article and discover the top four tips to a less stressful and demanding divorce process.

    1. Plan Ahead

    In order for your divorce to be easy to handle, you need to look ahead and make the necessary preparations. As early as now, you may want to start scouting for a new place because your family house will have to be settled first during the property division part of your case. If you have joint bank accounts and insurance plans with your spouse, it’s also time to close them and get your own so you can secure your rights and assets. But most importantly, you should plan for your kids especially that the divorce will be a major change of lifestyle for them. When you’ve prepared everything properly, going through the case will definitely be much easier to deal with.

    2. Prepare Your Finances

    A divorce also becomes less stressful when you’re financially ready for it. So before the proceedings officially begin, be sure you’ve already set aside a generous budget for your legal expenses. Get a free case consultation from several legal professionals in your area so you can obtain an estimate of your possible fees. Also look for ways to reduce your divorce costs so your budget won’t quickly run out. You can save a substantial amount by hiring a qualified attorney with an affordable rate, maximizing your meetings and phone calls to your lawyer, as well as getting documents and witnesses yourself in order to save time and avail less of your lawyer’s services.

    3. Find a Divorce Lawyer You Trust

    Search for the quality divorce attorneys in your city and ask for bids. Carefully review their qualifications, credentials, experience, expertise, as well as prices. Observe a potential lawyer’s personality too because you’ll want to work with someone you’re really comfortable with. Just be a bit more patience in searching and you’ll find the perfect lawyer in no time.

    4. Try to Settle Things Peacefully with Your Spouse

    Lastly, your best shot in achieving an easy divorce is to talk to your spouse and try to negotiate your settlement agreement in a civil manner. If your spouse agrees to discuss the matters more peacefully, what you’ll be having is an uncontested divorce that doesn’t have to reach the court. You simply have to sort out all your properties and marital issues until a fair compromise is made. Sometimes there won’t even be any need for lawyer (except probably during property division) so you can significant lessen your costs. It’s definitely a win-win situation for both parties, but remember that an uncontested case will only work if your spouse sincerely participates. Without the full cooperation of both sides, your case will eventually become contested and you’ll have to undergo trials and spend more time and money on the divorce. It’s very important that you and your spouse are on the same page to make the proceedings much easier for everyone.

    Do you live in Omaha, NE and need an attorney to help you win your divorce case? Then go to Divorce Lawyers in Omaha NE right now and you’ll instantly be referred to the best and most affordable legal experts in the city!