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Property division and the concept of separate property

Marriage dissolution is a process that can affect an individual, and his or her family, in many different ways. While the emotional impact of ending a relationship can be devastating, it can also be tough on children who are suddenly left with limited time with each parent. Outside of the emotional realm, divorce can reshape an individual's financial well-being, which can completely redefine how he or she lives moving forward. In order to give one's self the best possible chance of obtaining a fair resolution and solid financial footing, divorcing individuals need to approach certain marriage dissolution issues with aggressiveness.

One of these issues is property division. California recognizes community property, which means that property that is considered to be jointly owned will be evenly split. So, dividing these jointly owned assets can be relatively easy. However, determining what qualifies as community property and not property separately owned by the parties can be challenging. This is where it may be key to put forth compelling legal arguments to show why certain property should or should not be subjected to equal distribution.

Separate property can be obtained many ways. First, and perhaps the most obvious, is property that is obtained prior to marriage. The separate property designation remains tied to assets that are obtained with separate property. For example, a car bought with an inheritance that was received prior to the marriage will still be considered separate property. However, when money and other assets are comingled, such as by depositing cash into a joint checking or savings account, it becomes community property.

Negotiating a fair property division settlement can be key to an individual's financial future. Depending on the assets in question, there can also be sentimentality to consider. This is why Californians who are engaging in property division need an individually tailored legal strategy that seeks to support their position.

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