San Diego Property Division Attorney

Dividing property in a divorce can be among the most difficult personal and financial challenges you may face. You and your spouse or partner may not agree about who should receive certain property items or the value of the items in dispute. Often, expert witnesses are needed for appraisals, valuations, and other opinions.

Choosing the correct San Diego property division attorney can make all the difference in a complex property case. At Doppelt and Forney, we understand the complexity of these moments, and we're committed to providing you with the guidance you need to make informed decisions about your property and assets.

If you are struggling to reach an agreement with your spouse, or you anticipate a property battle, you need to work with experienced attorneys who have successfully helped their clients reach a reasonable division of their personal property or argued for a favorable court decision. The best property division attorneys may also call upon expert witnesses to support their client's position.

Why Choose the San Diego Property Division Lawyers at Doppelt and Forney?

The family law attorneys at Doppelt and Forney bring more than three decades of experience helping clients equitably divide their property and working with property valuation specialists who have previously been qualified in court and have extensive courtroom experience.

Recognizing the stress and uncertainty that can accompany property division discussions, we offer free, confidential consultations. These sessions are designed to provide a clearer view of your situation and solid explanation of your legal rights to provide a foundation for the next steps in your legal journey.

We Focus on Your Needs

Our approach is centered on you: your needs, your concerns, and your goals. We aim to demystify the process of dividing property in a divorce or legal separation, offering clarity and a path forward during an overwhelming time.

When you reach out to our San Diego property division lawyers, you'll take a positive step toward securing a resolution that aligns with your best interests. Let us show you how we can support your journey toward a new chapter of your life.

The Doppelt and Forney divorce lawyers also stand out for their unwavering commitment to personalized legal service. We understand that each property division case is unique, reflecting your life's personal and financial intricacies. Our approach is one of empathy and a deep understanding
of the challenges you face, allowing us to provide legal solutions and emotional support.

This dedication to understanding and addressing your needs has earned us positive recognition and gratitude from those we've assisted through difficult times.

Communication is a Top Priority

From straightforward to complex property divisions, we offer informed counsel and effective strategies tailored to your situation. We prioritize keeping you informed and involved every step of the way according to the terms of our Written Service Guarantee. Whether we are negotiating or litigating, we foster trust with our clients, and we'll ensure you feel supported and well-informed from start to finish.

We Offer a Certified Family Law Specialist

The team at Doppelt and Forney includes a Certified Family Law Specialist, a recognition that speaks to our thorough knowledge and focused practice in family law, including property division. This certification
underscores our ability to address the complexities of property division with a proficiency and dedication that is distinctive from other law firms.

From the intricate details of asset valuation to the nuances of debt allocation, our specialized knowledge ensures comprehensive and exceptional representation.

What are the Three Types of Property Under California Law?

California law recognizes three types of personal property:

  • Community property - all assets acquired after the date of marriage until the date of separation
  • Quasi-community property - assets acquired by the parties while living outside California that would be considered community property if the parties were living in California at the time
  • Separate property - assets acquired by either party before the marriage or property acquired as a gift or inheritance during the marriage

Each piece of property must be characterized into one of three categories to determine how they will be divided. The three categories are:

  1. Real property - such as a home, vacant land, commercial business, or other real estate
  2. Personal property - tangible items such as jewelry, furniture, art, vehicles, and other items
  3. Intangible property- including retirement, bank, and other financial accounts

The basic steps involved in property division are:

  • Identification of Assets and Debts: Both parties list their assets and debts, distinguishing between community and separate property.
  • Valuation of Assets: Accurate valuation is imperative for a fair division. This may require professional appraisals.
  • Division of Property: Assets and debts are divided according to California law to achieve an equitable split.

Many couples turn to mediation or negotiation to reach an agreement on their property division to avoid the uncertainties of court decisions. This approach gives the parties more control over the outcome
and often results in a more amicable settlement.

It is essential to work with a skilled property division attorney who can explain the difference between these types of property and help ensure a fair division in accordance with the law. When you contact our legal professionals, we can explain this area of the law and how it may apply to your unique circumstances during your complimentary virtual consultation.

What is a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA)?

Most property settlements are contained in a document called a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA), or a Legal Separation Agreement (LSA) is used if the parties were never legally married, but they need to divide the assets they acquired during their relationship. These documents contain the division of the parties' assets and debts, among other provisions.

These settlement agreements should include all real property, personal property, and intangible property owned or possessed by the parties. Each piece of property must be individually listed and valued. Failure to fully disclose all assets and debts can cause an omitted asset, which the Court can later divide.

What Happens if Someone Fails to Disclose Assets?

If someone refuses to disclose an asset or purposefully fails to list some property, they can face punitive sanctions. When the court determines someone willfully failed to disclose an asset, it can order an unequal division of the property. In other words, don't try to hide property from your spouse or the court, or you might receive far less than you hoped to protect.

In a recent case in California, a wife won a lottery settlement. The wife did not tell the husband about her win. Instead, she filed for and received a divorce. After the divorce was final, the husband found out about the lottery settlement and asked the Court to divide this community property interest as required by law.

Under California law, community property is usually awarded equally between the parties in a fifty-fifty split when it is divided in a divorce. Since the wife did not disclose her lottery win and hid the money, the Judge awarded the husband the entire proceeds of the lottery settlement.

Do not let this happen to you.

The property division lawyers at Doppelt and Forney can make sure your assets and debts are fully disclosed and that you receive a fair and equitable property division.

Are Marital Debts Included in a Marriage Property Settlement Agreement?

Most Property Settlements also address debts. Each divorce or legal separation may include debt issues such as:

  • Tax obligations owed by the parties or the marriage community
  • Student loans
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgage and home equity lines of credit and
  • Other personal or business debts

How are Debts Categorized in a Divorce?

The normal rule is that all debts acquired from the date of the marriage to the date of separation are considered community debts. The same rule applies to physical property. All property is presumed to fall into the community property category if acquired after the date of the marriage up to the date of separation.

However, there are some notable exceptions. Some standard exceptions to the community debt category include the payment of support related to another relationship, student loans, or other types of loans acquired separately. The legal framework for property division in California includes statutes such as California Family Code Section 2550, which guides the division of community property.

Similarly, exceptions to the general community property rule may include assets acquired through a gift or inheritance, even during the marriage. Under certain circumstances, this property can be considered separate property. However, issues may arise concerning transmutation and commingling of assets, which can change the property's character from separate to community. As you can see, property and debt rules can be complicated. Count on an experienced property division lawyer to help resolve your divorce with a fair outcome.

Often, in complex cases, an expert witness such as a forensic accountant or certified public accountant explains how the property should be categorized. Our marital property attorneys can help San Diego residents retain an expert witness if needed. Bringing in an expert may be especially valuable in divorces involving long-term marriages (usually more than ten years).

However, certain short-term marriages, especially those with high-value assets, can also benefit from outside opinions and expert testimony.

Contact a San Diego Property Division Attorney at Doppelt and Forney

Once a Property Settlement has become a Judgment, it is tough to go back to court to change the terms. This is why having any Property Settlement reviewed by an experienced property division attorney is essential to ensure your rights are protected. Your best option is to work with a skilled divorce lawyer who will fight for your legal rights from the start.

While it is possible to set aside judgments, these are complex motions, challenging to win, and often very expensive. Ensuring your property settlement is fair and follows the law before signing is less costly. When you partner with Doppelt and Forney, we can act as your advocate, support, and guide through one of the most challenging times in your life.

Our San Diego marital property division attorneys offer a 30-minute complimentary confidential consultation to discuss your unique situation and the best strategies and techniques to protect your rights. Take the first step toward securing your future.

Contact Us online or call us at 858-312-8500 today!