Property division can be the easiest and least costly part of a divorce, or it can be the most complex and most costly part of a divorce. Property division essentially consists of three steps:
- Identification of all property and debts;
- Characterization of all property and debts as either community property or separate property; and
- Valuation of community property and community debts.
When all community property is easily identified and valued, division of community property and debts can be the easiest and least costly part of a divorce because in California we simply divide community property (and debts) equally.
When there are disputed separate property claims, and tracing claims to separate assets or debts, as well as other complex claims for credits and reimbursements, this analysis can become quite complex. Moreover, if one party owned a business at the time of marriage, there will be other complex analyses required to determine the community property versus the separate property components of the growth (or appreciation) of that business