A fascinating article recently published on the Fox Business website looks at the complex ways in which debt can effect marriage and divorce here in California and elsewhere. As the article notes, “any debts incurred” during marriage or residence in a community property state, such as California, “are considered jointly owned, regardless of who spent the money or why.”
The article is an advice column, and the author was responding to a specific question regarding a surviving spouse’s responsibility for debt incurred by the other person in the marriage in the event of that person’s death. As the column noted, the couple in question are separated.
Though focused on death, questions like these are also relevant to many California divorces. Sorting out assets and debt obligations can be one of the most complex elements of the Orange County property division required under California’s community property laws as part of a California divorce. Issues such as these can be one of the most challenging aspects of negotiating a Los Angeles or Orange County divorce.
For example, what if a couple have been separated for some time and one partner lives outside California, in a state where community property is not the law? How do assets acquired after a separation but prior to a divorce factor into community property? How do you divide an interest in retirement funds or an on-going business? These, and many other complicated questions, require the assistance of an experienced Orange County divorce lawyer – someone familiar with both the letter and the spirit of the law, and who will vigorously defend your interests throughout a legal process which can become drawn-out, and is often confusing for the layperson.
Even couples who are not seeking to end their relationship are often well-advised to spend some time with an Orange County family law attorney. A skilled practitioner can assist with prenuptial agreements or other legal instruments designed to ease your way through the court system whether your partnership ends in divorce or the death of one spouse or partner after many long and happy years.
Fox Business: Separate in Marriage, but Joined in Debt?