3 ways to keep separate property separate during divorce
Divorce causes married couples, who used to want to merge their assets, to fight tooth and nail to split everything they have.
California’s community property law prescribes an equal distribution for anything acquired or bought during the marital period. On the other hand, separate property owned before the marriage or after the divorce remains with its owner.
However, as straightforward as the distinction between these property categories sounds, cases are rarely this simple. Disputes often arise when a party claims partial ownership for helping to increase a separate property’s value. Thus, knowing how to keep a separate property separate can ensure that a divorcing party maintains exclusive possession and ownership.
Protecting separate property
Separate property can come in different forms, such as bank accounts, heirlooms, and gifts or inheritances from family members or relatives. Further, if a spouse purchased the family home and car before tying the knot, they can argue that these count as separate property.
Since who gets what has significant economic implications, divorcing individuals can consider the following ways to secure their separate properties:
- Get a prenuptial agreement: This legally binding contract, typically drafted at an amicable time, provides a sound basis for addressing conflicts by stipulating what happens to all cataloged separate items.
- Avoid commingling assets: Stay away from turning separate property into shared or mixed wealth. For instance, making two individual bank accounts into a joint account or adding a spouse to a title.
- Organize paperwork: Clear and detailed documentation can overcome the burden of proof by tracing who has rights to an asset.
If these protective measures serve their purpose, a divorcing couple can reach an agreement. But a court litigation may be necessary if disagreements persist.
Preserving a stable financial future
Divorce already takes so much from both parties. So, losing their prized possessions seems too unfair. With legal guidance, they can proactively take on such a complex situation, and find strategic solutions to preserve the stability of their financial future.