As a general rule, all property acquired during the marriage or domestic partnership in joint title, which was purchased with funds earned during the marriage, is presumptively community property. Any property acquired prior to marriage, or by gift or inheritance during the marriage is separate property. At dissolution or termination of a domestic partnership, the court only has jurisdiction to equally divide the community estate. It has limited jurisdiction over a party's separate property. This broad stroke statement is the starting point in any dissolution, where a thorough examination and determination of the separate versus community interest in all assets and liabilities must be made, as the characterization of an asset or liability as community or separate has a huge impact on how the marital estate is divided.
Certain assets may need to be evaluated in order to ensure proper division, such as real property, business interests or retirement benefits. Neutral or separate experts are employed to perform these tasks such as Certified Public Accountants, and Property Appraisers.
At Ruben/Huggins we have over 45 years of combined experience in division of assets and liabilities in family law matters, which often involve large estates and coimingling of assets. As Family Law Specialists we know the consequences, both tax and otherwise, that attach to the division of various types of property and their liabilities, including real property, personal property (such as artwork, jewelry, antiques, vehicles, airplanes), business interests, pensions, life insurance, brokerage accounts, stock options, bank accounts, and family pets.