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Dividing complex property during divorce

During a divorce, there are usually always assets to divide. This can be a lengthy and complicated process if one does not take the proper legal steps in advance. Complex property division often involves business assets, retirement accounts, artwork and in some cases, even the Los Angeles, California Dodgers. The divorce between the couple that co-owned the Dodgers for example involved how to divide the baseball franchise between the splitting couple.

According to some experts, the reason the division of the Dodgers was such a debacle was not because of the complicated nature of the asset itself, but because the couple's marital property agreement was vague on the matter. However, if the agreement had clearly indicated how such property was to be divided in the event of divorce, months of litigation would have never occurred.

One Forbes article recommends that the "best offense is a good defense." Entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is the best way to ensure complex property will be divided easily and fairly during a divorce. Pre-divorce agreements on property division occur in a neutral environment when the couple has a positive relationship. The environment is not adversarial and property is better divided in this atmosphere.

Fast-forward three to twenty years later when a divorce ensues, tensions are often high. Property division decisions made during divorce are loaded with hidden agendas and vengeful emotions.

Further, selling all the assets and splitting everything down the middle is not always the best option financially. Tax consequences to a sale or other associated costs make just getting rid of everything a sometimes difficult endeavor. This is why it is also important to consider which property to divide and which to sell in a pre or post nuptial agreement.

A well-informed legal team can be the best asset to a pre and post-divorce property agreement. California is a community property states which means all property acquired during marriage is owned by the couple jointly. This can make for some complicated division decisions. An attorney can ensure such a process is fair and just.

Source: Forbes, "How to Handle Difficult to Divide Assets," Jeff Landers, September 19, 2012.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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