Articles Posted in Property Division

puzzle-3223941_1280-300x182Whether you are getting ready to file for divorce, or already have, you probably have seen or heard the words “community property” and “separate property” many times.  These are common family law terms that parties will need to understand throughout their proceeding for dissolution.  Pursuant to Family Code section 760, “Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.”  This statute is followed by Family Code section 770, which states, “Separate property of a married person includes all of the following: (1) all property owned by the person before marriage, (2) all property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and (3) the rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.” Continue reading

What does the “date of separation” mean and why is it so important?separation-date-300x202

When a spouse files for divorce the first issue to tackle is often the parties’ date of separation.  One might think that the date of separation is when the petition was filed in the divorce, or when one spouse moved out.  However, the date of separation is often fact driven and can be a complicated issue to resolve.

Pursuant to Family Code section 70 the “date of separation” means that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, such that (1) the spouse has expressed to the other spouse his or her intent to end the marriage, and (2) the conduct of the spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end the marriage.  The court has stated that there must be problems “so impaired” in the marriage that there is no reasonable possibility of “eliminating, correcting, or resolving these problems.”  (In re Marriage of Hardin (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 448.)  Ultimately, the court will look towards the parties’ subjective intent to end the marriage, and the parties’ outward persona should not be considered. Continue reading


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For most people, the decision to get divorced is not reached on a whim.  More often than not, “Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine.  You can’t do it in one push.  You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.” (-Jerry Seinfeld)

It is not uncommon for those going through the divorce process to at some point become frustrated by the amount it is taking to, what in itself sounds simple, end their marriage! While sometimes bittersweet, many people returning to checking the “single” box, provides, a sense of progress, relief, satisfaction, accomplishment, or even freedom. This is especially true for those who have been enmeshed in lengthy highly contentious and stressful litigation. Continue reading

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During marriage, neither spouse is supposed to devalue the community estate by wasting of assets. “Wasting” means spending community money for a non-marital purpose. The classic case has been the spouse who changes his lifestyle, often in the process acquiring a friend to whom the spouse gives money, pays expenses or buys gifts. The other spouse neither knows of these actions nor would approve of them if they were known. But the non-wasting spouse can attempt to recoup losses by negotiation or in court. Continue reading

Earlier this year, Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos announced his divorce from wife MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage and four children together.  The couple met and married before Jeff founded Amazon.  Jeff, who has a reported net worth of nearly $157 billion is the world’s richest man.

The couple, who allegedly did not have a premarital agreement, reside in Washington state.  Washington is a community property state similar to that of California.  That means that generally all assets and debts acquired during marriage will be divided equally.

Despite the couple’s massive estate, the couple finalized their divorce in July 2019, just 7 months after making the announcement.  MacKenzie Bezos will get, amongst other property, 25% of the couple’s Amazon stock, an amount equal to roughly $38 billion.  This stake in Amazon makes MacKenzie the third richest woman in the world.  https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-mackenzie-bezos-divorce-official-settlement-38-billion-2019-7 She has promised to donate at least half of her fortune to charity!

In a previous blog, we talked about different classes of experts (Joint, Hired Gun, Review) employed in family law cases.  In this blog, we will talk about the different “types” of experts we use in family law. 

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accounting is a specialty practice area of accounting that is used in litigation.  Forensic accountants are used in family law to perform tracings for separate and community property, to investigate Family Code Section 2640 reimbursement claims, Moore/Marsden calculations,  to analyze/characterize stock options, and other issues which require an “investigation” of accounting issues.

What separates forensic accountant from regular accountants is specialized training focused on investigation as well as the expectation that the outcome of their investigation will result in the preparation of reports suitable to serve as evidence in a court of law. Continue reading

Lawyers love to make jokes about how bad we are at math.  Often those jokes include statements like, “if I were good at math I would have become an engineer” or if “I was good at math and science I would be a doctor not a lawyer.” Nobody likes lawyer jokes more than lawyers, but these statements are not universally true.  There are many lawyers who are good at math.  In fact at Bickford Blado & Botros, we have the only certified family law specialist in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant with a Master of Business Administration.  Having an attorney with a strong math and accounting background helps to spot and analyzes issues, but it is in no way a substitute for a financial expert.  When it comes to financial matters, there is no substitute for a qualified financial expert.

In family law, there are many reasons you may decide to use an expert.  Similarly, there are just as many different types of experts you can hire.  You might need an expert to value your family home or a business.  You might need an expert to decide a party’s income, or what custody schedule is best for your kids.  Whatever the reason might be, you need to decide first what class of expert you want.  This blog will address the three “classes” of experts we see in family law. Continue reading

Sometimes a divorce isn’t filed in the right county and a party might be seriously disadvantaged as a result.

What do we mean by “wrong county”? Let’s start with the law. Family Code section 2320 states, in relevant part, as follows (emphasis added):

A judgment of dissolution of marriage may not be entered unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months next preceding the filing of the petition. “ Continue reading

Every once in a while, there is a divorce case where there is a real risk that one of the parties is going to bilk a community property financial account and run. This is more likely to happen in cases where one party has connections to another country and wishes to take community assets or the parties’ children to that country while suffering little to no repercussions for their actions. This can be especially disastrous in child custody litigation. If one party absconds with the children to another country and bilks the parties’ financial accounts, the aggrieved party will have fewer financial resources to prosecute an undoubtedly expensive international custody battle.

There are steps, however, that can be taken to prevent the other spouse from running off with hard earned community assets. Most attorneys understand that they can seek an emergency order from the Court. What many attorneys do not know, is that a party can actually unilaterally freeze an account, even one held in the name of the other spouse! Continue reading

Discovery is not the first topic that comes to mind when parties meet with a family law attorney for the first time.  In fact, there is a good chance most litigants have no idea what discovery actually is.  Sure, anyone who watches any of the serialized crime dramas on TV has heard of a subpoena, but most people have no idea what they are why they are useful.

In a nutshell, discovery is the process of collection evidence, whether that evidence comes in the form of documents, statements, testimony, or information.  There are several types of discovery a party can issue.  Which method a party chooses depends on what type of evidence they are looking to obtain.  This blog will briefly describe the most common forms of discovery used in family law cases. Continue reading