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Property division in divorce: Laws stronger in California

When you are going through a divorce, getting all of the marital property divided can be a very tricky task. In some cases, special circumstances might come up that make it difficult to determine how an asset should be split. The division of marital property during divorce was at the heart of a case that was recently decided by the California Supreme Court.

The case dealt with a $3.75 million life insurance policy for Frankie Valli, formerly of the Four Seasons. The policy was purchased in 2003 and listed his wife as the sole beneficiary. She claimed full entitlement to the policy value of $365,000 when the couple got divorced. The Supreme Court, however, said that isn't the case.

Under a 1984 law, written notification of a transfer of community property from one spouse to another is required. The Supreme Court cited that law in the ruling. It said that Valli didn't give up his interest in the policy in writing. The policy was purchased with community funds and Valli is entitled to half of the value of the policy.

This case has strengthened the community property laws in the state. California is one of nine states that divide community property equally if a couple opts to divorce.

Anyone who is going through a divorce should make sure that all community property is covered in the divorce settlement. If there is contention over who owns specific property, it might be necessary to seek a legal ruling on the division of that asset. Knowing the specifics of community property and property division in California might help you to determine if you are getting all the assets you are entitled to by law.

Source: ABA Journal, "Frankie Valli divorce case strengthens California’s community property law" Debra Cassens Weiss, May. 17, 2014

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