Planning for Your San Diego Divorce
Divorce cases are among the most complicated and bitterly-contested types of cases in the legal system. While it is both possible and admirable, amicable divorces are rare — particularly in cases where there are a large number of assets at stake. These high-asset divorces are often challenging, as fights over money can escalate during what is already a stressful time. Given what is on the line in any divorce, having superior quality legal representation is an absolute must for anyone dealing with this precarious situation.
While having an experienced attorney is important for high-asset divorces, but it is vital for anyone — regardless of their financial status. Our San Diego divorce lawyers are dedicated to providing top-notch legal services for clients looking for concrete solutions to the financial and family law issues that arise during the dissolution of a marriage.
We offer practical guidance and dedicated legal advice. Our team of attorneys focus on resolving disputes while protecting clients’ rights as well as their personal and financial interests. From the initial consultation to the final resolution of your case, we will provide you with sound analysis, objectivity, down-to-earth advice and intelligent solutions.
California Divorce Law
Given the number of celebrities who reside in California, the divorce laws of our state are regularly the topic of national news and tabloid stories. This sometimes has the effect of creating a false impression of the law. Understanding California divorce law is critical to making good decisions when it comes to your own separation and marital dissolution.
In order to be granted a divorce in California, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the State for at least 6 months, as well as a resident of the county where the petition is filed for at least 3 months. There is an exception for same-sex marriages where the parties were married in California and the parties’ current state refuses to dissolve the marriage.
There is a waiting period for divorce in California. After filing a divorce petition and summons on your spouse, you must wait for at least 6 months for the divorce to be final. If your spouse appears in court before being served, then the 6 month countdown begins with that court appearance. The waiting period applies to both contested and uncontested divorces.
California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong in order for a court to grant divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” is often used to explain that a marriage has broken down and is no longer viable in California.
While proof of infidelity or other misconduct is not necessary to obtain a divorce, it may have an impact on other aspects of the divorce. For example, a judge may take these allegations into consideration when ordering spousal support.
California is a community property state. This means that, as a general rule, all property or debt acquired during the marriage is community property and subject to division during a divorce. However, property that was acquired during the marriage through an inheritance or gift, then it is considered separate property that is not eligible for division.
In addition, any property or debt that was acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation is considered separate. In some circumstances, property may be considered commingled, where it is characterized as both community and separate property.
The division of property in a California divorce can be incredibly complex, in both relatively straightforward and in high-asset cases. A skilled San Diego divorce attorney can work with you to properly characterize and value your assets to protect your best interests.
Many divorces are resolved through a settlement, either by negotiation via the parties’ lawyers, or through a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party works to help the parties come to an agreement on any outstanding issues.
However, some cases cannot be settled through negotiation or mediation. In this situation, the case may go to trial. A California court will then decide legal issues such as (1) child custody; (2) the amount of child and/or spousal support; and (3) division of property. Divorce proceedings can be both lengthy and costly, so many divorce attorneys recommend working a case out through settlement or mediation when possible.
San Diego High Asset Divorce
As San Diego law firm that assists couples and families through the difficult process of divorce, we recognize that there are often additional challenges that come with the greater amount of property and finances involved in a high-asset situation. On top of potential child custody issues, there may be stock portfolios, bank accounts, real estate investments, business ownership, pensions, and 401(k) retirement funds to divide. Having a significant number of assets can contribute to the complexity of litigating a divorce.
In these cases, reaching an agreement can often be contentious. Family law mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution can help with resolving issues related to child custody, child support and spousal support. A skilled San Diego high-asset divorce attorney can help with this process, including a division of assets that protects your interests.
Cases involving significant assets are unique in that they typically require a family lawyer to work with other professionals in order to properly value your assets. In any given case, your lawyer may coordinate with a certified public accountant, a forensic accountant, and business and/or home appraisers. These experts can help track down assets, determine appropriate values, and even analyze whether an asset is separate, community, or commingled property.
While each divorce case is unique, many high-asset divorce cases share common sources of conflict. Our San Diego divorce attorneys routinely handle divorces where the following issues come into play:
- Prenuptial agreements
- Businesses and professional practices, including the value of these assets and the date of determining that value
- Business valuation methods
- Hidden assets
- Real estate appraisals, both for the actual value of the property and the rental value
- Investment accounts, including the tax effect of division and an imputation of a higher return on investment in the case of mismanaged assets
- Employee benefits (stock options, deferred compensation, etc.), including the use of qualified domestic relations orders for the division of retirement plans
- Property division (La Jolla, Downtown, Del Mar, Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Carlsbad, etc.)
- Spousal support/alimony, including the unique issues tied to self-employment compensation issues
Should I Get a Divorce?
“I want a divorce!” These four harsh words can break up a union meant to last a lifetime. The decision to pursue divorce is one of the toughest any person can make. While there are legal and financial matters to consider, the decision is also psychological, emotional and even spiritual. A family law attorney can give advice on some of these issues, but the others require some self-reflection.
- Is now the right time for divorce?
You have to ask yourself, “Is my marriage over?” Have you reached the point where there is no hope of reconciliation? Have you tried counseling, therapy or other outside help? Will you be financially able to live on your own? Divorce involves one household becoming two.
- How do I prepare for divorce?
Speak to a San Diego divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers require certain information and documents to get your case started. Prepare an inventory of your assets that includes everything from your house to your bowling trophies to your eight-track collection. Look at all of your bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and your piggy bank. Know how much you have. Get a handle on your income and expenses. And start planning for life after divorce. Divorce for men may be a different experience than for women. Think about where you will live your life and how you will support yourself.
- What can I expect during the divorce process?
Divorce lawyers will tell you that all depends on whether you’re going through a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. Will you spouse cooperate and negotiate through the divorce process? Initially, you may not know. Couples often use meditation successfully. Mediation allows the couple to negotiate all of the issues in divorce with an impartial third party, avoiding a court-imposed division of property, custody and alimony. While the process of filing the petition and ending up with a judgment of divorce are universal, what goes on in between depends on you, your divorce attorney and your spouse.
- Will I lose half my stuff in a divorce?
It depends. Your family law attorney will talk to you about property division, alimony and child support in California. Often, it depends on the income and income potential of each spouse. The parties will consider custody arrangements and how those relate to finances. It is well-documented that the number one reason for divorce is money. So money should be an important question to consider as you investigate divorce.
- What if I’ve had indiscretions? What if I caught my spouse?
In California, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences and incapacity to make decisions for yourself. So indiscretions (adultery) are not, in and of themselves, grounds for divorce. Also, fault is not considered in property division or alimony. That being said, such issues will most likely make the divorce more contentious.
- Should I consider my kids in the divorce?
All good parents consider the welfare of their children. Should you stay together for the kids? Perhaps you would be a better parent without your spouse. Shouldn’t your children see you happy? They need to know what a happy, healthy adult looks like. Getting divorced does not mean that you’ve failed your children. Psychologists have put out a wealth of information about how to talk to your kids about divorce. Consider the advice of professionals. But you know your family best.
Should I get a divorce? This is the most difficult question any adult will ask. A divorce lawyer in San Diego will help you take a look at these things to consider before take the plunge.
Contact San Diego Family Law Attorney Richard M. Renkin
Attorney Richard M. Renkin provides experienced representation for child custody matters in the San Diego area. He is also a trained family law mediator. If you have questions about any type of child custody matter, feel free to call (619) 299-7100, or contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates online today.
The Importance of a Professional and Experienced Family Law Lawyer
At the Law Office of Renkin & Associates, our team of attorneys have the skills and experience to work toward a favorable resolution of your case. When you’re seeking an attorney to help with the dissolution of your marriage, we are committed to exploring all options to find the best solution for your case. Whether you’re in the military, have a child custody dispute, or are struggling with the division of assets in a complex divorce, you’ll find the skilled, compassionate representation you need.
Our family law firm offers extensive experience in family law matters, a thorough understanding of intricate financial issues involved in divorce, and a proven track record of success in protecting the interests of our clients throughout the California divorce process. We are here to advocate for your rights, as well as support you during this difficult time. To learn more about your rights and options, including what our San Diego lawyers can do to protect you, call our office at 619-299-7100 or email us to schedule a case evaluation.