Before spouses can finalize their divorce and part ways, they must first legally divide their shared assets, property, and debts. However, not all property acquired during a marriage is considered community property. If one spouse owned or inherited property before the marriage, it may be considered separate property. This could also apply to any property that is solely in one spouse’s name, so long as the spouse can prove ownership via financial records or title documents. .
However, separate assets and property can become community assets inadvertently. For example, if a husband moves into his wife’s home and makes mortgage payments, the house could be considered community property by the court. It’s important to review your assets and property with a divorce attorney prior to starting any distribution negotiations.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to ensure your personal property is still yours once the divorce is finalized.
Create a List of Your Personal Property
Ideally, you should start this list right after you say, “I do,” but that’s hardly romantic or realistic. Even so, it’s important to keep track of what property you and your spouse own individually and mutually. This simplifies the overall division process and helps you prepare for any negotiations. Your spouse can’t counter your ownership claims if you took the time to gather evidence. However, remember that any purchases made with community accounts may be considered community property in court. Also, you may not get back any items you purchased as a gift for your spouse.
Once you have your list, you can gather financial documents, receipts, and ownership deeds to prove you are the sole owner of any property being questioned. For example, if one spouse purchased a car that is solely in their name and paid for with separate funds, then the other spouse can’t claim ownership to it. Again, an exception to this policy is if the property was purchased with a shared financial account.
Draft a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements solve many marital problems and simplify the overall divorce process. Both documents list how assets, properties, and debts should be distributed in the event of divorce. The court typically accepts the terms of these valid legal documents, so long as a spouse or a child isn’t threatened by financial instability.
Schedule a Consultation
At Arnold Law Group, APC, we strive to help families develop satisfying solutions to their legal conflicts. Our compassionate Fresno divorce attorneys can represent your interests and help you negotiate a fair distribution of assets. Our firm has over 30 years of family law experience and represents clients in the Madera, Tulare, and Fresno counties.
Have concerns about your divorce? Contact our Fresno divorce attorneys at (559) 900-1263 schedule a consultation.