Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Exploring more benefits of prenuptial agreements

In a previous post, we discussed the wisdom of using prenuptial agreements to identify property that is separate from the marital estate.

In a community property state like California, the division of marital property in a divorce proceeding operates under a 50-50 presumption. Although separate property may be excluded, jointly owned assets and property are often split equally.

In some ways, that approach is more straightforward than the equitable distribution approach followed in most other states. However, problems may still arise when separate property has been commingled with other marital assets.

As background, it’s important to clarify what is meant by separate property. The list generally includes inheritances or gifts from a third party, personal injury lawsuit payments, property that was separately owned before the marriage, as well as any other assets or property excluded from the marital estate by a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Other disputes may arise over characterizations of property that was acquired during the marriage, such as whether certain property was a loan to the couple instead of a gift to only one spouse.

Yet as a divorce attorney knows, taking an inventory of the marital estate is only the first step; valuations of all the community property must also be undertaken. That process may be intensive, requiring documentation such as mortgage payment stubs, tax records, bank and retirement account statements, or other evidence. An attorney that focuses on divorce and is comfortable addressing challenges in property division can be a great help. That assistance may include a prenuptial agreement as a tool for preserving separate property and safeguarding the inheritances for children from previous marriages or other loved ones.

To learn more about asset protection strategies in divorce, visit our firm’s property division page.

Related Post: “Prenuptial agreements in Orange County,” Nov. 7, 2013

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