Deciding to divorce later in life may present its own set of challenges. For example, property division may be especially complex, involving parsing through commingled assets. Additionally, retirement plans and estate planning concerns sometimes further complicate the issues. If you are going through or thinking of filing for a late-life divorce, it is important to contact a dedicated San Diego divorce lawyer. With nearly 30 years of experience, Attorney Roseline D. Feral has a thorough knowledge of California divorce law and understands the unique considerations that must be taken into account in a late-life divorce.Pursuing a Late-Life Divorce in Southern California
For most couples who decide to divorce relatively late in their lives, child custody matters are typically not much of an issue, while financial concerns move to the forefront. The division of property is often the hardest part of a late-life divorce because the couple is dividing marital assets that took the majority of the marriage to accumulate. Issues that typically arise in a late-life divorce include:
- The division of real estate;
- The division of business assets;
- The division of retirement assets;
- Moving costs;
- Spousal support concerns;
- Social Security income;
- Estate planning concerns; and
- Current and future health care expenses.
California is a community property state, which means that there is a presumption that all property and debt acquired over the course of the marriage is community property and belongs equally to both spouses. Community property is automatically subject to an exact 50/50 division at the time of a divorce. Of course, this does not mean that each piece of property will be divided exactly in half. Instead, this simply means that each spouse will walk away with half of the value of the couple’s total community assets. For example, if the couple has two bank accounts with roughly the same amount of money, each of them might take one account. This would allow them to avoid going through the logistical hassle of dividing each account.
Separate property, on the other hand, denotes any property that a spouse owned prior to the marriage, acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, or gained after the spouses separated. Since separate property belongs solely to one spouse, it is not subject to any type of division at the time of the divorce. The spouse who owns the property gets to keep it.
In California, spouses are free to divide their marital property in virtually any way that they choose. If the spouses reach an agreement, they may codify the terms of the agreement into a document called a Marital Settlement Agreement. Among other requirements, both parties must sign this document. The agreement is then approved by the court and incorporated into the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage issued by the Superior Court. However, if the spouses cannot agree on how to divide their property, the court will split the property 50/50 according to the default rules.
Dividing 401(k)s and other retirement or pension plans is often more complex than dividing other types of property. The process requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is a state-court order that is drafted by a lawyer, approved by the retirement plan administrator, and signed by a judge. A QDRO outlines the non-working spouse’s share of the plan benefits.Contact a Family Law Attorney in the San Diego Area to Safeguard Your Property
If you are facing a late-life divorce, you should retain an experienced San Diego attorney who can help you understand your rights. You can rest assured that Roseline D. Feral will carefully explore the facts of your case and pursue a satisfactory outcome under the circumstances. She also represents people in other Southern California cities, such as Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. For a consultation with a property division lawyer, you can contact us online or call us at 619-232-1010. Alternatively, you can call Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191.