If you are filing for divorce, you must deal with many practical matters. One of the major issues you will encounter is how to fairly divide property. This is an important part of making sure each spouse remains comfortable as they transition into their new lives.
Property negotiations may seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. If both parties approach the discussion with patience and understanding, they can reach an agreement that best suits everyone’s needs.
In this article, we'll discuss helpful hints on how to navigate these talks, working toward a mutually beneficial outcome.
Understand Which Property Is Subject to Division
Different states use different property division systems.
California generally assumes that assets and debts acquired during the marriage should be divided equally. This applies to both shared properties, such as homes and cars, and personal possessions like jewelry and artwork. Property you accumulate during the marriage is called “marital property,” and technically, both spouses own it equally. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the lease or which spouse invested the most money into the property.
You must also evenly divide debts such as mortgages, credit card balances, and medical bills, assuming they were acquired during the marriage.
Prepare a Comprehensive List of Assets and Liabilities
Create a detailed list of all items to be divided in your divorce. Each party should thoroughly review it before coming to an agreement.
This list should include assets like:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate properties
- Expensive luxury items
- Credit card debts
Making Sure Property Division Is Fair
Each person should have realistic expectations about what they are entitled to. Consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the contributions of each partner, and the value of the property in question.
California courts will attempt to split assets evenly, giving each spouse 50%. Remember, however, that equality and fairness are not necessarily the same thing. Fairness, or “equity,” depends on the circumstances of each case.
For instance, imagine the home has the latest gaming system. Technically, each spouse has equal ownership of this console. Now imagine that only one spouse is the primary user. They are the “gamer” in the house. It may be unfair to sell the system and split the profits equally, rather than just let the primary user keep it.
When negotiating property division outside of court, you should keep factors like these in your mind:
- Who used the property most often?
- Who will need the property more after the divorce?
- Who made the biggest contribution to the property?
Creating Your Property Division Plan
- Decide on a timeline, and stick with it. This gives both parties a sense of direction and ensures that you are making progress.
- Set clear goals. Take the time to create a list of assets that need dividing, and determine how the division will take place.
- Focus on communicating openly and honestly. Be clear about your needs and wants, but also be open to compromise.
Consider Mediation or Arbitration
If you are stuck in negotiations, seek outside help from professionals who work in divorce mediation or arbitration. Doing so is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a smart, effective way to reach a fair resolution.
Both processes offer different approaches. Mediation is focused on finding common ground and making decisions together. Arbitration is a binding decision. An outside party hears both sides of the argument and makes a decision for them.
Both methods, however, can help resolve lingering disputes and simplify the process of dividing property. By working with an experienced third party, you can avoid the roadblocks that often arise in these situations and create an equitable outcome for all parties involved.The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates is here to help you find amicable solutions for your divorce. If you are ready to work out the details of property division, contact our office for a free consultation. You can reach us online or call us at (916) 299-3936.