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Los Gatos, CA divorce attorney for 401(k), IRA, pension plansWhen getting a divorce, you will need to address a wide variety of complex financial issues. Since California is a community property state, the property division process will need to address all of the assets and debts you acquired during your marriage and ensure that you and your spouse each receive an equal share of the marital estate. Retirement savings accounts and pension plans can often complicate asset division. These assets will need to be properly valued, and the right procedures will need to be followed when dividing them between you and your spouse.

Using a QDRO to Divide Retirement Accounts and Pensions

Retirement savings often represent some of the most valuable assets owned by a married couple. These may include employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401Ks or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). In some cases, the full balance in an account may be considered marital property. However, if one spouse contributed to an account before getting married, some of the funds in the account may be considered separate property. The assistance of a financial expert may be needed to determine the value of an account at different points in time and establish the marital portion of these funds.

Determining the value of a pension plan can often be even more difficult, since the amount that a person will be able to receive in pension benefits may not be known until they reach retirement age. The actual value of these benefits will depend on the amount of income a person receives, the amount of time they worked in a pension-eligible position, and the number of years they expect to receive benefits after retiring. A person’s ex-spouse will be entitled to receive a percentage of their pension payments, depending on the amount of time they were married while working in the job where they earned these benefits.

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Los Gatos, CA property division lawyerOne of the most challenging aspects of a divorce is the division of property between you and your spouse. Disagreements often arise over who will retain certain assets and debts, and splitting things up may put a strain on both of your finances. However, if you and your spouse are open to cooperation, you can reduce stress over the division of assets and take control by creating an agreement that works for both of you.

How Is Marital Property Divided in a California Divorce?

In California, assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage are almost always considered community property, meaning they are jointly owned by the two of you. In a divorce, the court will ensure that community property is divided roughly equally between the spouses, and because divorce is considered no-fault in California, neither spouse’s behavior leading to the divorce will likely impact the distribution.

If you leave the decisions about property division entirely up to the court, the result will likely be financially equitable, but it may not account for each partner’s specific preferences. If you wish to have more control over the decision, you and your spouse should attempt to reach an agreement cooperatively. A skilled divorce mediation attorney can help guide your negotiations to minimize conflict and ensure that both of your interests are accounted for.

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Los Gatos divorce attorney for division of real estateThe divorce process can be an emotional and challenging time for all parties involved. Difficult financial decisions will need to be made as you separate from your spouse, and one of the most significant issues involves who will own your family’s home. Your marital home is likely to be one of the most valuable assets you own, and it can play a key role in the division of marital property. It is important to understand how California’s divorce laws address the division of residential property, and you should work with a family law attorney to determine the best way to proceed throughout the divorce process. 

Dividing Real Estate Property

As you work through the divorce process with your attorney, there are a number of critical steps you need to take regarding your residential property. First and foremost, you must establish whether the home is separate or community property. In the state of California, most assets and debts accumulated by either spouse during a marriage are community property, and they must be divided equally between spouses. However, assets received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance are typically considered separate property. Property purchased after the couple has separated, but prior to the divorce, is also regarded as separate property that will not need to be divided between spouses 

It should also be noted that property purchased or acquired prior to a marriage is generally considered separate property. However, a home that was separate property can become community property if the spouses agree to to redefine the asset or if it became commingled with community property during the marriage, such as when both spouses consistently made mortgage payments or shared other expenses related to the home. 

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Los Gatos divorce attorney financial issuesThousands of people get divorced each year, and couples choose to split for a wide variety of reasons. However, financial issues are one common cause of divorce. In some cases, a couple may disagree about how expenses will be shared, what sorts of purchases are appropriate, or what should be done about debt. If they cannot come to terms on these issues, ending the marriage is often the best choice. Unfortunately, even after divorce, financial issues related to the marriage can continue to have an effect. To ensure that you will be able to begin your new life on secure financial footing, you should take a few steps to protect yourself financially.

What You Can Do 

The choices made during the divorce process can have a major impact on your life going forward. Here are a few steps to take and missteps you should avoid in order to maintain financial security:

  • Understand the Tax Implications: Your divorce will change your financial situation in a number of ways, and one of the most notable alterations is how you are taxed. If you are ordered to pay spousal support or child support, you will not be able to deduct these payments from your taxable income. If you receive these types of payments, you will not be required to pay income taxes on them. You should also be sure your divorce decree specifies whether you or your ex-spouse will be able to claim tax deductions or credits for any children you share, who will be responsible for paying property tax on your marital home, and whether you will need to address any outstanding tax payments that are due.

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Los Gatos post-divorce enforcement lawyerThere is no way around the fact that a divorce can be an emotionally challenging process. Separating from the person you once loved can be one of the hardest times in your life. It is extremely important to approach your divorce with some level of professionalism. Your divorce settlement can ultimately dictate the future of your family’s living situation, as well as your financial security. The first and most important step you can take as you prepare for divorce is hiring an attorney who will work cooperatively with you to represent your best interests. In addition, you should be aware of some common mistakes to avoid during the divorce process that could have an impact on your financial security. 

Lack of Preparation

As you prepare to negotiate a divorce settlement, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of your financial situation and be as prepared as possible. If one spouse managed the collective finances, it can be hard to understand what to protect. This means that you and your attorney need to collect documents such as tax returns and mortgage papers to completely understand the nature and extent of the community property assets and debts. 

Another step in the preparation process is to update any financial documents, such as wills, investment beneficiaries, or life insurance accounts. You should also be sure to separate all joint financial accounts. 

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