Property Division

San Francisco Property Division Attorney

Deciding who gets what during a divorce can be difficult and time-consuming, especially when big-ticket items like property, 401k’s, and pensions are at stake.

Need help with property division during your divorce? Contact San Francisco attorney Warren Major LLP for a consultation today at (415) 286-5440.

With nearly two decades of combined experience, we have assisted countless clients in securing their desired share of assets during a divorce.

Community Property Laws In California

Nine states in the US follow community property laws in case of divorce: California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, and Louisiana. The rest of the states function under what is called “equitable distribution” laws.

Under equitable distribution laws, both spouses are entitled to property that was earned during the marriage—with a few exceptions. During a divorce, the court evaluates many different factors to determine how best to divide the property between the two spouses in an equitable manner.

Community property laws, in contrast, evenly split marital property no matter the situation. For example, even if only one spouse were employed during the marriage, both husband and wife would own all money earned together. Thanks to community property law, debt ownership also gets equally divided between spouses. Even when one partner had no idea about those debts. Property Division is normally the biggest issue causing contention in a divorce.

Property division

It is often a large source of contention between couples during a divorce, second only to child custody. Both parties are likely concerned about how the marital assets will be distributed. Whether they feel entitled to receive more assets than the other party. If one spouse has vowed to leave the other in poverty out of spite, this can heighten tensions even more.

If you are going through a divorce in a community property state, many things can affect how your assets are eventually divided. But having an experienced San Francisco family law attorney by your side during the entire process may be the most important thing you can do for yourself moving forward. If you believe that your spouse has wasted money on frivolous items before filing for divorce, your lawyer could bring in a forensic accountant to show that you deserve a greater share of the property division.

Separate vs. Marital Property

All property that either spouse obtains during the marriage while living in California is community property. Regardless of where the real estate is located or what type of property it is. Like personal belongings or even a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit.

Community property laws typically stipulate that any assets or debts acquired during the marriage are to be jointly owned by both partners. However, there is an exception to this rule if specified in a pre or post-nuptial agreement. As outlined in California Family Code $$ 760 – 761, even though there are presumptions associated with community property ownership in the state of California, it may still be possible to refute a particular item as community property in court. But beware, the judge will require quite convincing evidence to do so. Some other interesting facts about community property distribution and ownership in the state of California include:

  • Without the knowledge or agreement of both partners, neither partner can legally sell community property.
  • If a California divorce petition has been filed, specific measures are put into place in order to prohibit any property transactions. This includes borrowing against marital assets.
  • A prenuptial agreement is the only way to avoid having a property allocation be decided by a California judge.
  • Although married individuals usually have the power to control their separate assets independently, once a divorce or legal separation is being discussed, there are temporary limits even for selling real estate that is separately owned.


Wondering what would be considered separate property?

In California, the following are a few examples of separately owned-property (outside of division):

  • Property that one spouse owned before the marriage
  • One spouse can profit from any property owned before the marriage, with a few exceptions
  • Inherited or gifted property before or during the marriage
  • Profit from property inherited or received as a gift before or after the marriage
  • Any money or assets gained after legal separation is in place
  • Income earned while living apart and separately


Valuation Of Properties During A San Francisco or Marin County Divorce

If spouses can’t agree on the value of assets, they may have to consult a real estate appraiser or forensic accountant. They will help determine the worth of a house, business, or other belongings.

A home’s value is decided through a Comparative Market Analysis, which investigates similar houses recently sold or currently being displayed for sale in the area. Appreciation and depreciation, as well as any home improvements, will also be considered when deciding a house’s value.

The three methods most people use to value personal property are:

  • The value of the property is estimated by how much it would cost to replace the property.
  • The market comparison is best for collectible or rare items since it would be difficult to replace them otherwise. This method checks recent sales of similar items.
  • If you want to know how much a future investment might be worth, like a piece of art, then you should bring in an expert appraiser.


A business’s value is determined by looking at several factors. The assets and debts of the company, its profitability, how much it has increased in worth since the marriage began. And finally, what date this assessment is being made.

Call San Francisco Property Division Attorneys Warren Major LLP Today

Having an attorney who knows how to handle property division negotiations, litigation, and valuations is crucial, especially when the property is complex. The divorce lawyers at Warren Major LLP in San Francisco and Marin County have the experience and insight into California family law you need on your side.

We will do everything within our power to make sure you receive a fair property division in your divorce case. This way, you can look forward to the future with hope. No matter how complicated your circumstances may be, we are here to help resolve any property-related issue.


Warren Major LLP

101 Lucas Valley Road
Suite 362,
San Rafael, CA 94903
United States (US)
Phone: (415) 286-5440


Call Us Today