Divorces are difficult in any case where there are substantial assets that either party brought to the marriage. If you are an avid investor, a business owner, or have a high net worth, you may have a lot to lose if your spouse takes half of what you own in the divorce. Fortunately, there are laws and legal opportunities to protect your assets and income during a divorce.
The Oxnard high asset divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth represent people on their divorce cases. When dealing with substantial net worth, high assets, and other important assets to protect, it is vital to take your case to an experienced, detail-oriented attorney who will help you protect your assets during divorce and separation proceedings. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Protecting Assets and Investments During a California Divorce
California is a community property state, which means that each spouse takes half of the community property during a divorce. Community property, also called “marital property” or “joint property,” are the assets you share during a marriage. Virtually any property you or your spouse receives during the life of your marriage automatically becomes jointly owned, and this property is divided 50/50 during a California divorce.
To avoid having your assets divided 50/50, they must be classified as “individual property” or “separate property” instead of marital property. This category of assets includes any property that you owned, individually, before the marriage. When you get married, your assets are still yours and you maintain individual ownership rights over them – unless you mix them in with your spouse’s assets. Keeping a business or your investments separate during a marriage helps ensure that they will be your separate property to keep after a divorce.
Even though the assets may be maintained as separate property, your spouse may still have some claim to them upon divorce. Anything that you mixed-in with your spouse’s assets may have become joint, marital property. For instance, if you mingled your bank accounts, the funds may become one pool of jointly-owned finances, especially if both of your names were on the accounts.
In addition, your spouse may be entitled to any increase in the value of individual property. The increase in value is something you received during the length of the marriage, and it would count as marital property even for items classified as individual property. That means the increase in the value of a stock, a classic car, or a painting that you owned would have to be split 50/50 with your spouse upon divorce.
When you divide assets, there is no requirement that each spouse gets half of each asset. Instead, assets are usually divided so that the overall value each spouse takes is even, but each spouse gets whole items. So, instead of selling off a stock portfolio and splitting the price, you may be allowed to keep the whole portfolio intact, but you have to give up your 50% share in other assets to account for that value.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements for High Asset Divorces
When you enter into a marriage, you may be able to protect your assets by signing a prenuptial agreement. Prenups decide, up front, which items are kept as individual property, and they enable you to make other decisions about how property will be divided upon divorce. This can include clauses dictating that your personal wealth, investments, business, or other important assets will stay individual property, ensuring you keep them after the divorce.
Many people see prenuptial agreements as one-sided, but there are plenty of ways they can benefit both parties. First, your spouse will know from the outset what he or she would be entitled to upon divorce. This can help ease the process if divorce happens down the road. Second, you can have clauses that guarantee your spouse more money and assets if you are unfaithful or cause other problems in the marriage. If your spouse refuses to agree to a prenuptial agreement or you find the agreement too aggressive, you can make similar agreements about asset division after you are already married. These agreements are called postnuptial agreements, instead, and have similar options.
Many prenuptial agreements are incredibly strong and can protect your assets if you have to go through a divorce. In most cases, courts refuse to reverse or set aside prenuptial agreements. Unless there is coercion or one party lies about what assets they have, the agreement should be valid and binding.
Oxnard High Asset Divorce Attorney Offering Free Consultations
If you are getting married or facing divorce and you have substantial wealth, strong investments, high assets, or you own a business, you should consider signing a prenuptial agreement and working with an experienced Oxnard high asset divorce lawyer. The family lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth can help with your prenup, divorce, and asset division issues. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.