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  • Writer's pictureJames Chau

The Intricacies of Property Division: Handling Complex Assets in a California Divorce


Divorce is never a straightforward process, and things can become particularly complex when it comes to the division of assets. In California, a community property state, spouses are entitled to an equal share of the marital assets. However, the division becomes intricate when dealing with unique assets such as businesses, stock options, and intellectual property. This post will delve into the nuances of dividing these complex assets in a California divorce.


Understanding Community Property


Before diving into the specifics of complex assets, it's essential to understand the basics of community property laws in California. Essentially, any asset or debt acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is equally owned by both spouses. This means that these assets and debts are divided equally between the parties upon divorce. However, certain assets, like those acquired before the marriage or as a gift or inheritance, are considered separate property and are not subject to division.


Businesses and Divorce

Valuation of the Business


One of the primary challenges in dividing a business in a divorce is determining its value. This often requires hiring a business valuation expert to assess the company's worth based on various factors, including its assets, liabilities, income, and future earning potential. There are additional issues related to who can run the business and who might need to buy out the other spouse if it is a closely held small business.


Division Options


Once the business's value is determined, couples have several options. They can sell the business and divide the proceeds, one spouse can buy out the other's share, or they can continue to co-own the business post-divorce.


Stock Options and Divorce

Determining the Value


Stock options can be challenging to value, especially if they haven't vested yet. The value of stock options can fluctuate based on the company's performance, market conditions, and other factors. Capturing a price for the stocks is difficult if a buyout of the others shares is requested.


Division Approach


The approach to dividing stock options depends on when they were granted and their vesting schedule. The courts may use a formula to determine the community property interest if granted during the marriage but vested after the divorce.


Intellectual Property and Divorce

Types of Intellectual Property


Intellectual property can include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Each type has its own set of rules for valuation and division in a divorce.


Valuation and Division


The value of intellectual property can be based on its current income, potential future income, or a combination of both. Once valued, it can be divided like any other asset or one spouse can be compensated for their share.


Seek Expert Guidance


Dividing complex assets in a divorce requires expertise and a deep understanding of California's family law. Working with an attorney who can navigate these intricacies and ensure a fair division is crucial.


If you're facing a divorce and are concerned about the division of complex assets, the Law Office of James Chau is here to help. As a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, James Chau brings expertise and dedication to every case. Don't navigate this challenging process alone. Contact us today at (408) 899-8364 or visit our office at 2114 Senter Road, Suite 2, San Jose, CA 95112.


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