There are many couples in San Diego, California who feel that their marriage is no longer sustainable and getting a divorce is the best option. You will have to find out how to protect your assets in a divorce. This can be an emotional and stressful time because you have to account for substantial properties and assets for a legal, equitable division. And when things go to court in San Diego, it’s best to be aware of the divorce laws applicable in California.

In the state of California, there’s an equitable distribution of marital assets between spouses as per the community property laws. Assets acquired during the marriage are considered jointly owned by both spouses and subject to division in a divorce. As a trivia, it’s worth mentioning that eight other states in the US in addition to California are community property states. These are Idaho, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, Texas, and Wisconsin. 

How to prepare for a divorce?

 Now that you both have decided to separate, you may be wondering how to prepare for a divorce. Getting your divorce finances in place is just one component of the equation. You have many other aspects to take care of. Let’s quickly take you through them here:

#1 Check any agreements in place

A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can help protect your assets by outlining how property will be divided in the event of a divorce. These agreements must be drafted by an experienced attorney and signed by both parties to be enforceable.

#2 Take stock of properties

Any property acquired before the marriage, inherited, or gifted to one spouse during the marriage is considered separate property and is not subject to division in a divorce. It is important to a transmutation agreement, signed by both parties, proving that the property is separate. If you co-mingle your separate property with marital property, it may become marital property, and you may lose your separate property claim.

#3 Get all financial records in place

Keep accurate records of all financial transactions and assets. This includes bank statements, investment account statements, tax returns, and any other financial documentation that may be relevant in a divorce.

#4 Cater to your children’s needs (if any)

If you have children, consider their needs and how they may be impacted by the divorce. Surely, they may be going through an emotionally challenging time too. Don’t neglect them in the midst of your marital turmoil. Work with your spouse to develop a plan for co-parenting and ensure that their needs are met during the process.

#5 Create a support network

Since divorce can be a stressful and emotional process, it’s important to have a support network in place. This may include family, friends, or a therapist. Keep in touch with them as you navigate your divorce so that you can keep mental distress that comes from being a lonesome fighter at bay.

What assets to take into account during a divorce?

Now comes the main challenge—taking stock of what you own, individually and together with your spouse. If you wish to protect your assets in a divorce, here are the assets that you should take stock of:

  1. Cash and bank accounts: This includes physical currency, bank deposits, and other liquid investments like money market funds. You need to check any co-owned checking accounts, savings accounts, and other deposit accounts held at a bank or credit union. 
  2. Investments: Investments co-owned by both you and your spouse can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities that can generate income or appreciate in value. Ownership stakes in companies, partnerships, or other business entities will also be counted under investments.
  3. Real estate: This includes land, buildings, and other property that can be used for investment or to generate rental income. You might have to get in touch with a trusted real estate agent or investment advisor who can provide guidance and help you make informed decisions to protect your assets.
  4. Retirement accounts: This includes individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, and other retirement savings plans. You should note that the division of retirement accounts can be a complicated process, as there are often tax implications and other factors to consider.
  5. Intellectual property: It’s important to identify all intellectual property that was created or acquired during the marriage. This includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other intangible assets that can be licensed or sold for a profit.
  6. Vehicles: This includes cars, trucks, boats, and other vehicles that can be sold for a profit, which is then divided between the spouses.
  7. Collectibles: This includes items like art, antiques, stamps, coins, and other valuable items that can appreciate in value over time.
  8. Insurance policies: This includes life insurance policies, health insurance policies, annuities, and other insurance products that have a cash value. However, the division of insurance policies can vary depending on the specific policy and circumstances of the divorce.

It’s essential to understand the types of assets you own and how they can be affected by various financial and legal situations. By knowing what you own, you can better protect your assets and ensure that they continue to provide value and security over time. You will have to get in touch with a family lawyer in San Diego to know the nitty-gritty of your case.

Knowing the terms of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement made between two people before they get married. This agreement lays down the distribution of assets and liabilities in the event of divorce, separation, or death. Prenuptial agreements can cover a wide range of topics, including property division, spousal support, and the rights and obligations of each spouse during the marriage.

On the other hand, a postnuptial agreement is akin to a prenuptial agreement. However, this agreement is made after the couple has already gotten married. Like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement can address issues related to the division of property, spousal support, and other financial matters in the event of divorce, separation, or death. However, a post nuptial agreement may also be used to address issues that arise during the marriage, such as infidelity or financial misconduct.

Both prenuptial and post nuptial agreements can help you protect your assets and avoid costly litigation in the event of a divorce or separation. However, these agreements are not appropriate for everyone, and they can be difficult to enforce if they are not drafted properly or if they contain unfair provisions. It is always recommended to consult with a family lawyer to ensure that any agreement meets the legal requirements and protects interests of both parties.

Protecting community and separate properties in a divorce

There are two categories of properties and debts in California: community and separate property. Community property can be anything you have ownership of or owe together during your marriage. On the other hand, separate property can be anything you each own individually before your marriage or after your separation. This includes inheritances and gifts.

The court takes into consideration these two categories while deciding their division between you and your spouse after the divorce. Generally speaking, you retain the ownership of your separate property and divide your marital property equally.

You may now be wondering how long do you have to be married to get half of everything. For that, you have to distinguish between community and separate properties. That’s where you need to know your date of marriage and separation.

For most people, the date of separation can be the day when one or both of you let each other know that it’s best to end your marriage. This can be communicated verbally or through actions. For others, it’s the day they stopped living together. From that day, anything owned or owed ceases to become community property.

Knowing the two categories of properties and debts in California would prove useful because you get an idea of how to protect your assets when the separation becomes legally binding.

Organizing financial records 

When going through a divorce, it is important to gather and organize all financial records to ensure a fair and accurate division of assets and liabilities. Some financial records you should consider collecting include:

  • Bank statements: Collect statements from all bank accounts held by you and your spouse. These statements should show all transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.
  • Credit card statements: Gather statements for all credit cards held by you and your spouse, and make sure to note the outstanding balances.
  • Tax returns: Collect tax returns for at least the past three years, including all supporting documentation.
  • Income statements: Gather all income statements of you and your spouse to show any income earned during the marriage.
  • Retirement and investment account statements: Collect statements for all retirement accounts held by you and your spouse, including 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. Also, check all investment accounts held by you and your spouse, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Property deeds and mortgage statements: Collect documents related to any real estate owned by you and your spouse, including mortgage statements and property deeds.
  • Business records: If you co-own a business with your spouse, you will have to collect all financial records related to the business, including tax returns, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets.

By gathering and organizing these financial records, you and your lawyer can work together to ensure a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities.

Catering to the needs of children during a divorce

Divorce can be a challenging time for children, as they may feel confused, overwhelmed, and uncertain about the future. It is important for parents to prioritize the needs of their children and take steps to support them during this difficult time. By prioritizing their vital needs and taking steps to support them during the divorce process, you can help them navigate this challenging time and emerge stronger and more resilient.

Be open and honest with your children about the divorce, but avoid giving them more information than they can handle. Listen to their questions and concerns and answer them in an age-appropriate way. Children thrive on routine, so try to maintain as much consistency as possible in their daily lives. This includes maintaining regular schedules for meals, bedtime, and other activities.

Let your children know that you love them and that the divorce is not their fault. Reassure them that you will always be there for them and that they will continue to have a stable and loving relationship with both parents. Consider seeking the support of a therapist or counselor who can help your children work through their feelings and emotions during the divorce process.

Does my husband have to pay my bill until we are divorced?

Generally, during a marriage, both spouses have a legal obligation to support each other. This means that if one spouse is unable to support themselves financially, the other spouse may be required to provide financial support until the divorce is finalized. This support may come in the form of paying bills or providing financial assistance for living expenses.

However, the obligation to provide support may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your marriage. This includes factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and assets of each spouse, and the reason for the divorce. Possibly, the court may issue an order for spousal support or alimony as part of the divorce settlement. This could require your husband to provide financial support to you even after the divorce is finalized.Every divorce is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to preparing for a divorce. It’s important to work with experienced professionals and take the time to understand your situation and options. By taking proactive steps to prepare for a divorce, you can ensure a smoother and more effective process. It is important to consult with Garwood Reeves who can provide guidance on the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. We can help you understand your legal rights and obligations during the divorce process.