In the state of California, the model of community property is followed. This is the way that property will be divided up between a married couple that is seeking a divorce. Marital assets will be included and this typically involves anything that was gained by either party during the marriage, aside from personal gifts or inheritance. Some items can be counted as separate property and will not be factored in when property division occurs.
Community property is stricter in the state than in others and will be more of an even divide down the middle. This is regardless of the fact that one spouse may have had more to contribute to the relationship than another. In order to combat this, an attorney should be sought. The best action to take is even before the marriage has begun.
This can be through the use of a premarital agreement. This is an agreement that is made before a couple walks down the aisle and says I do. It must be made between both of them and documented in writing. The guidelines of an agreement are outlined in California Family Code §§1610-1617. It can cover a number of important areas regarding the life of the couple, in the event that they divorce. This can be useful for those that may eventually face a divorce in the state as it can be used to protect against community property by allowing the couple to establish upfront if certain items will remain in the name of one of the two individuals. This is very important for those that have a substantial wealth or items that are very personal to them that they don't want to risk.
It can also determine who will be given certain property in the event of a death of one of the spouses; possibly a spouse with a child from a previous relationship that they want to ensure gains certain property in the event that they can no longer dictate this themselves. An Agreement may include the obligations of a certain party to property as well, since owning real estate and other items can also come with an added burden. A premarital agreement needs to be property formed as well, since the courts can choose not to uphold it and are less likely too if there is a problem with it. Contact our
office if you and your future spouse are looking in to forming an agreement or you already have one that you want to have upheld in court.