Suit over Identification of Marital Property Highlights Need for Experienced Divorce Lawyer in San Diego

The Toronto Sun reports a woman is suing her divorce attorney for $14 million, claiming the attorney failed to adequately identify assets.

Division of property and valuation of property are among the primary responsibilities of a San Diego divorce lawyer. Too often, people think that a property division in a divorce must be equal because of California’s no-fault divorce law. In reality, spouses can and do walk away with far less (or far more) than an equal division of assets.
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You can tell a lot about how seriously an attorney takes the obligation by the time he or she has put into acquiring the knowledge and skill that will allow for the best possible legal representation of clients. Nancy J. Bickford is a certified family law specialist — a distinction earned by less than 2 percent of California attorneys — who also holds an MBA and is a licensed certified public accountant through the State of California.

In the case out of Canada, the woman claims she is out at least $3 million worth of assets she should have received in a split from her common-law husband. The suit claims her divorce law firm failed to fully investigate and identify the availability of assets and to determine the appropriate value of those assets.

“As a result of the defendant lawyer’s breach of contract and negligence, this has resulted in the plaintiff receiving substantially less property than she should have received,” the lawsuit states.

Distinguishing separate property from community property can be more complex than many realize. What if a spouse owned a house before marriage but both have made mortgage payments for years? What about retirement accounts? Year-end bonuses? Inheritance? A business that began prior to marriage but was built up significantly during marriage? And don’t forget liabilities — those can be community property as well. Too often, a party to a divorce believes just because a former spouse is responsible for a car payment or house payment according to the terms of a divorce agreement, that a bank cannot come after the freed party in the event of missed payments. Banks don’t care what your divorce agreement says. Your attorney will work with you to sever such ties and protect you to the fullest extent possible.

The identification and evaluation of community property can be particularly challenging in marriages where one spouse is the major wage earner and keeps the books. In such cases, you may be best served by speaking to an experienced family law firm in San Diego before announcing your intentions to your spouse. The ability to gather evidence and taking other steps to protect your rights can be easier before relations turn hostile on the homefront.

San Diego Family Law Attorney Nancy J. Bickford is the only board certified divorce lawyer in San Diego who also holds an MBA and a CPA. Don’t settle for less when determining your rights during a divorce or child custody case. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.