Family Law Blog

What Does Transmutation Mean In Property Division

Thursday, October 25, 2018

people signing documents at a desk

Property division is perhaps one of the most time-consuming aspects of the divorce. You never know how much stuff you have until an event like divorce has you needing to split it up. As a community property state, those divorcing in California need to split all property evenly, and one of the primary ways of doing so is through transmutation.

The term transmutation is brought up when a couple is negotiating the fair and equal division of their shared assets. It refers to situations in which one party gets an item of significant net value in which they need to agree to give up several smaller items to match the value and keep the division equal. An example is if one spouse gets the house, they may have to give a car, some antiques, and several pieces of furniture in return to make up the value. Transmutation also refers to instances in which they take separate property and include it into the marital property. Why would anyone do this? It is the same as the instance above, the spouse would rather trade their separate property in return to retain a certain high-value item from the marital pool.

Essentially, transmutation is just a large trading game to get what you want. However, all divorce property division needs to have a certain amount of equality. This means you can't negotiate for a spouse to trade everything they have so they can keep one thing if all the items they traded exceeded the value of that one thing they really want.

If you are going through a divorce, then you want a good lawyer by your side. For help getting your fair share out of a divorce, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help make sure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Property Division: Who Pays The Bills During A Divorce?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

stressed-couple-sitting-at-counter-paying-billsGetting divorced is the sort of thing that tends to eat up all your time and attention. You worry about your kids, you worry about your finances, you have to keep your court dates straight, file the right paperwork, and talk to your attorney to make sure everything is going smoothly. And that's if you and your partner are going your own ways amicably; if you're not, then you have to attend negotiations with someone who is trying to fight you on every ground involved in this divorce.

A lot of stuff can fall by the wayside while you're understandably involved in this process. Your social life, your hobbies, and even your career can all take serious hits from your divorce. It can affect practical things, too. Things you might not even think about when you first start your proceedings. Things like, whose job is it to keep paying your bills while going through this divorce?

Generally, It's Whoever's Name Is On The Account

When it comes to paying bills during a divorce, the answer is usually pretty simple; which name is on the account? That's who pays the bills, according to Simple Texas Divorce, because they're still that person's bills. If your spouse has a credit card or an on-demand movie account, those are still their bills, to be paid on-time just as if there wasn't a divorce proceeding going on.

That might sound simple, but things can get complicated when both of you are listed on an account, and you are both held liable for the bill. For example, say you're getting divorced, but you both still live together in the same house. If both your names are on the power bill, for example, then you're both on the hook for it. That means it's up to the two of you to figure out some way to cover the expense that is amenable to all parties involved.

However, this requirement needs to be reflected based on your current living arrangement. If you are separated, and each of you has your own places where you live, you should update your billing information to reflect that. Everything from credit cards and banking, to utilities and your Netflix account, should be divvied up, with each of you handling your own part of it whenever possible.

Lastly, though, it's important to remember that you can't just shut off a service during a divorce proceeding. Any account closures will need to be joint, and negotiations will have to involve both parties. Otherwise, that could cause further complications to the divorce. After all, it isn't just about what paperwork you submit, or what you say in court; it's about how you are living your lives, and what actions you're taking throughout the divorce process. Every action is throwing a stone into a pond, and the ripples can have consequences when the court makes a decision.

Can I Take Money Out of My Account?

It can get nerve-wracking, examining every financial decision through the lens of your divorce. However, as Bedrock Divorce points out, all of your shared assets as a couple will need to be assessed and split before you can both go your separate ways. That includes savings accounts, retirement accounts (like a 401k), and pretty much any other resources. Which is why it's important not to touch those accounts, or to do something like taking out a loan against your 401k, without communicating about it, and making sure it's something you both agree on. Sometimes you'll need to dip into these accounts to pay your bills while the divorce is going on, but any one-sided activity could hurt you when it comes time to divide the marital assets.

For more advice on what you can do to make your divorce go smoother in Texas, simply contact us today!

Remembering the More Obscure Marriage Assets

Thursday, July 20, 2017

There isn't a couple in the world that plans for divorce, but it happens. If you are about to start your filing, then it is also time to start locating your assets. However, you first need to recognize that there are some assets that you might not be thinking about at first. Everyone remembers those typical assets like cars, bank accounts, and property, but some other assets like retirement accounts or investments, we tend to forget about.

Here are a few more unusual assets that you need to remember to look for in the event of a divorce:

  • Capital Loss - These carryovers can save a lot of money on your taxes, so be sure to check last year's tax returns to see what deduction you can take. If you find that you have a capital loss, then this is definitely something that should be brought up.
  • Land Purchases - If you or your spouse purchased land, cemetery plots, or any other shared interests together, it is time to identify them and assess their value. This is particularly important in cemetery plots since these can be particularly expensive. It is best to sort out the value of your share of the plot, or the plot altogether if you don't want to keep it. Land can be a little easier to sort out since the couple can often just sell it and split the profits.
  • Memberships - Did you and your spouse purchase a membership to a golf course, country club, or own a timeshare? These are something that people often forget about if they aren't using often, but they can be costly shared assets as well as become problematic if you ever want to use them again. Don't forget to bring them up in divorce proceedings as well as address who gets to keep the membership in question.

This is just a sample of some of the more forgotten assets that need to be addressed in divorce. If you are beginning your divorce proceedings, contact us today. Here at the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra, we know how important legal representation is in the event of a divorce. Don't get caught without representation if you want to make sure your divorce goes fairly and as smoothly as possible.



Retirement Plan Property Division

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Employee retirements plans accumulated during a marriage are typically community property. Since these assets are not accessible under IRS or plan rules until a specific age, family law has developed a method to ensure equitable distribution at a future date. This method is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and applies to most employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are a relationship between an employer and employee. The spouse might be a beneficiary but is not a payee. The purpose of a QDRO is to recognize the spouse of an employee as an alternate payee. This legal recognition must be established for the employer to pay benefits to someone other than the employee.

QDROs are applicable to accounts covered under ERISA, which is the main federal law governing employer-sponsored retirement account.  This includes pensions and 401K’s. It does not include IRA’s and does not include military and many government employee pension plans. IRAs are readily divided in the same manner as other community property. Government employer plans can also be divided through processes that works largely like a QDRO, but which are technically not QDROs.

Formulas that guide division of the plans are well-recognized. Situation-dependent factor may mean that the divisions are not necessarily 50/50. For example, if a spouse with a pension had years of work service before the marriage, that portion of the pension would probably not be community property.

While the formulas provide guidance, the goal of the court will be to achieve just and equitable division in the complete context of the divorcing couple. Some negation will be possible, if it is in the overall interest of the parties. For more information on division of retirement benefits, please contact us.

How to Come to a Property Division Agreement

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In California, division of property in a divorce follows community property rules. That means that the marital property is not split equitably, but rather evenly across both parties. However, separate property, which was bought by one party in a marriage alone is kept by its owner. However, if you are the major earner in a marriage, and are likely getting the short end of the stick with community property rules, there is a way around it.

While you can let the court decide property division, it is better for both parties to come to an agreement themselves. A property division agreement is an informal agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse where you can both negotiate a fair split. This is a way to easily get around community property rules, but only if both parties agree. Naturally, when the other party could legally be getting more, getting them to agree to a property division agreement is not easy, but not impossible either.

One of the most important things to consider when sitting down for a property division agreement meeting is whether or not to have attorneys present. No matter how friendly you still are with your ex-spouse, it is best for both parties to be represented just so things stay fair. Some parts of the property may have more sentimental value than they do monetary value, which is the major reason to do division of property independent of the court in community property states. By sitting down and doing it independently, everyone can get the specific things they want.

If you are filing for divorce and are looking to sit down to a property division meeting with representation, contact us today.

California Property Division is Complicated

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When two people enter into marriage, they are not thinking about the day that they might divorce and have to divide their property.  Maybe they should, though, because in California the divorce rate is 60 percent, ten percent higher than the national average.  

Most people know that California is a community property state, meaning that when it comes to divorce and property division, all assets, income and debt acquired while living with a spouse (or domestic partner) are divided and distributed equally.  Assets or debts acquired during the marriage through a gift or inheritance do not count as community property.

Although the idea of community property is fairly straightforward, in practice it is more complicated, particularly if the parties involved have accumulated a lot of assets and debts during the marriage.  A complex married financial life often makes for a complex divorce.

For example, a couple's community property might include a house, a rental property, automobiles, furniture, clothing, a business, checking accounts, retirement plans, stocks and bonds, life insurance and more.  Dividing these equally is often a challenge.  To illustrate, how is the marital home split since the court cannot physically divide it?  In some cases, the couple sells the house and evenly distributes the proceeds. In others, one spouse keeps the house and buys out the other's share.

Sometimes items that seem as though they belong to one person actually belong to both.  For example, suppose the husband saved $100 every month from his job income to buy a boat.  Even though he paid for the boat, it actually belongs to the husband and his wife because the husband bought the boat with money earned during the marriage.  Any income generated during the marriage is community property.  By extension, so is anything purchased with that money.

If you are contemplating divorce and wondering about property division, then contact us. Our experienced, skilled attorney will review your case.  We are here to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

 

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Property Division Options for Houses

Friday, September 09, 2016

Property division is a big part of dissolving a marriage, and California couples often have trouble deciding who gets what. A particularly sensitive issue might concern what to do with a house. This is a big asset that both parties may have a right to, so here are just a few possibilities for handling divorce and real estate.

Sell the House

The easiest thing to do might be to sell the house. Any profit gained would be split between both parties. While selling a house involves its own hassles, this is a fairly straightforward approach when it comes to dividing assets.

Divorcing With Kids

One or both parties might wish to stay in the house. If children are involved, it may be a good idea to let the custodial parent stay in the home with the kids to make the process easier on the children. Otherwise, both people might need to negotiate.

One Person Keeps the House

If staying in the house is a big priority for one partner, the other person must get something in return for his or her share of the house. Here are two options:

1. Buy out the other person. This could involve giving them a bigger share of a savings account or more valuable assets.

2. Agree on a fixed price for how much the other party receives when the house is eventually sold. A fixed amount gives the other person peace of mind if the housing market goes down while ensuring the person who keeps the home does not have to share profit that comes from improvements made after the divorce.

To find out more in-depth information about property division and options for real estate, contact us today.


Selling the Family Home After a Divorce

Thursday, July 07, 2016

One of the hardest parts about going through a divorce is property division. Not only do you have to decide who is responsible for this process, but you have to go through many emotions when letting go of certain items.

The family home is definitely a source of anguish for divorcing couples. If you are forced to sell the home, here are a few tips to help make the process smoother.

Settle Some Things Up Front

Before you list your home, you will want to settle a few details with your ex-spouse up front. For example, you should discuss which agent you plan to use as well as what the asking price will be. In addition to this, you will need to discuss plans for showing the home and how you will review any offers that are put on the table.

Choose a Realtor with Divorce Experience

When you are choosing a realtor, make sure you choose one that has experience with selling homes due to divorce. Since the process of selling a family home is difficult under these circumstances, your realtor will have a larger role than normal. Choosing one with prior experience in this touchy subject will help make the process flow smoothly.

Prepare your Home

Finally, you will need to spend some time preparing your home for the home viewing process. You and your ex-spouse will need to decide ahead of time, which portion of the belongings you each plan to keep. Remove as much clutter as possible and make any necessary repairs before you list the home.

Property division throughout a divorce is never a simple process. However, when emotions are running high in relation to certain property, the process can be even more difficult. Using these tips will help you smooth over these feelings and get the process over with as soon as possible.

For more assistance with your divorce, contact us today.


Do Not Let Emotions Interfere With Property Division and More During a Divorce

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The divorce process can be time-consuming and costly in addition to emotionally draining, which is all why it is easy to make mistakes when dissolving a marriage. Consider these tips when wanting to minimize financial expenses.

Focus on the important things:

Some people think divorce is the proper time to get revenge or air grievances, but this only draws out the process and makes it more expensive. It is important to try to act rationally instead of thinking with anger, grief or guilt. To get the best outcome from a divorce, you may need counseling or an attorney first.

Know when patience is necessary: 

Whether you are letting emotions get the best of you or dealing with a spouse who is, waiting out drama is often necessary to avoid regrets later. Trying to rush a divorce or giving in out of exhaustion will only result in an unsatisfactory settlement on your part. If there is an issue of contention or spouses have trouble communicating, alternate forms of divorce like negotiation or mediation might help.

Try to work together: 

Emotions do not always have to get the better of those going through a divorce. To resolve a divorce in a timely matter, both partners typically need to communicate honestly and be open to compromise. It may help if you have a few priorities in regards to matters like property division, alimony or child custody as this lets you focus on what you find most valuable while making concessions with less important items.

An attorney could offer a more objective point of view and help one negotiate and reach an agreeable settlement, so contact us when going through a divorce.

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Who Gets the House? Property Division in California Divorces

Friday, March 11, 2016

California is a community property state, meaning that all property and debts acquired during the marriage must be divided equally among the spouses. However, property division is not always as easy as splitting assets 50/50. A common concern of divorcing couples is the disposition of the family home. After all, the home is often one of the couple's most valuable assets.

There are many arrangements for disposing of the home depending on the family's circumstances. One of the easiest is simply selling the home and splitting the proceeds equally.

However, sale of the home may not be possible due to a slow real estate market or negative equity in the home. Additionally, the issue can be complicated due to the emotional significance of the family home. One spouse may not wish to sell the home and all of the memories it represents. Other spouses may wish to avoid further emotional distress to children by allowing them to remain in the home.

When one spouse is adamant about keeping the home for sentimental reasons and can afford to maintain the home with no financial assistance from the other spouse, one alternative is to allow that spouse to buy out the other's interest in the property. Where both spouses are concerned about the impact of the home's sale on their children, both may agree to maintain joint ownership and to allow the custodial parent exclusive use of it. In slow real estate markets, the couple may agree to maintain the home as a joint investment in hopes that the home's value may increase over time.

However, these arrangements require a level of cooperation between the divorcing spouses that is not always possible.Contact us today if you are divorcing and are concerned about the ultimate disposition of your home and other assets. Whether you need an attorney who can craft a workable compromise with your ex or need one who can litigate your position aggressively in court, we can help.