California Court Discusses Evidence Regarding the Nature of Property in Divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, who owns what property is often one of the biggest points of contention. Typically, in cases in which the parties dispute whether an asset is marital or separate, they will provide evidence in support of their positions. If they fail to do so, it may adversely impact their rights, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling. If you intend to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to retain a capable San Diego divorce lawyer to aid you in striving to protect your interests.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in October 2007 and separated in April 2015. The wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage a year and a half later. The husband purchased a home prior to the marriage, and the couple lived in the home from 2005 until they separated. They used community funds throughout the marriage to pay the mortgage for the home, however. Following a one-day trial, the trial court determined that a portion of the home was community property. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly calculated the community share of the home.

Evidence Regarding the Nature of Property

On appeal, the appellate court found in favor of the husband, reversed the trial court ruling, and remanded for further proceedings. The appellate court explained that where the parties do not dispute that there is a community property interest in a home, both parties are obligated to ensure that the court has the information needed to determine that interest. Here, the husband erroneously believed it was the wife’s duty to provide the court with such information and failed to offer any.

Further, the appellate court explained that the trial court could not use the total amount of mortgage payments to determine the interest. Instead, the court must evaluate how much the payments made with community property reduced the principal on the mortgage, then divide that amount by the purchase price to calculate the community property percentage share. The court must then assess how much the home appreciated during the marriage and multiply the appreciation by the community property percentage share amount to find how much of the appreciation is a community asset. Finally, the court must add the community property share in the appreciation to the amount of community funds used to make mortgage payments to arrive at the total community interest in the property at the time of the divorce.

Meet with a Trusted California Family Law Attorney

It is not uncommon for married couples to mingle separate and marital assets, and when they divorce, determining property rights can be challenging. If you have questions regarding property settlements in divorce actions, it is smart to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC are adept at helping people end their marriages in an efficient and fair manner, and if you hire us, we will work diligently on your behalf.  We have an office in San Diego, and we frequently aid people in divorce actions in cities throughout San Diego County. You can reach us through our online form or by calling 800-769-4748 to set up a confidential and free conference.


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