Complex Divorce Attorney in Irvine CA
When a married couple or individual makes the difficult decision to get a divorce, most want to resolve the legal process quickly. A drawn-out divorce case can cost more time, energy, and resources while causing a family excess stress. The more complex aspects there are in a divorce, the longer the divorce is likely to take. One of the most common reasons that a divorce takes time is the presence of complex or high-value assets. If one or both spouses own a business, interest in a business, or other large assets, property division is going to be more complex. Classifying, valuing, and dividing this property takes skill and resources.
Complex property division is not the only thing that can complicate divorce proceedings. Contentious divorces, contested child custody cases, and other disputes can make a divorce more complex and lengthy. Divorce cases that go through court will typically take longer than those resolved outside of court. When you work with an attorney for complex divorces, your case is likely to be resolved more efficiently, and you can have a skilled professional advocating for your needs.
The Goldberg Legal Group: Protecting Your Assets and Interest in Irvine Complex Divorces
To manage a complex divorce, you need an attorney who has experience with high-asset and complex divorces. When an attorney has handled cases of this caliber, they understand the unique legal requirements, have an existing network of professionals for asset valuation and dispute resolution, and know common issues. Although every divorce will have unique challenges, an attorney who has worked on divorce cases like yours is equipped to address those challenges.
At The Goldberg Legal Group, we have proudly helped those in Orange County, Irvine, and the surrounding communities with complex family law cases. For more than 18 years, we have represented individuals and families with delicate and contentious divorce cases, child custody cases, and other issues. A divorce can be an emotionally and financially stressful time, and an attorney can relieve some of this stress and help you find the ideal outcome to your complex divorce.
The attorneys at The Goldberg Legal Group understand the complications associated with high-value asset divorces or divorces where spouses are legally opposed to the split. We help spouses protect their rights and financial interests through marital agreements, asset liquidation, separation agreements, and asset valuation. We have significant experience representing our clients in litigation and negotiation.
Understanding Property Division and Complex Assets
California is one of the few community property states. Under these laws, each spouse has equal ownership over all marital assets when they divorce. Unlike equitable distribution laws, community property laws do not account for any outside factors when dividing assets and debts between spouses. These laws don’t apply if spouses are obtaining a separation agreement outside of court, but the court can still deny a separation agreement if it is unfair or unconscionable to a spouse.
Property division during litigation or negotiation can be contentious. Although the division of assets and debts isn’t always as emotionally complicated as child custody cases, spouses frequently have an emotional investment in their assets. Beyond that, spouses want to maintain their financial stability and remain secure in their futures. A fair division of marital assets is key to this, especially if one spouse has significantly fewer separate assets than their spouse. The goal is to maintain an expected standard of living and ensure financial stability, but that can also make the process of dividing assets more contentious.
This can be magnified when both parties have high-value assets or a high number of assets. Divorces with complex assets can add the following additional complications to the proceedings:
In complex divorces with high-value assets, it can be more difficult to achieve a 50/50 split in court or a fair split out of court. High-value assets can be hard to match. Courts will likely not divide assets the way that you and your spouse would like, as it may require the sale and profit-splitting of certain assets to ensure a fair division.
If a business is a marital asset, parties may have to determine how to sell or split the business, especially if the rest of the marital assets do not equal the business’s value. An attorney knows the common methods used to fairly split a business or otherwise come to an effective solution for fair property division. For business owners who want to maintain their business, it’s generally beneficial to reach this solution through negotiation outside of court.
Valuation of Assets
Assets must also be valued accurately to achieve this fair split, which often requires professional valuation and appraisal for complex assets. When a divorcing couple has simple assets with straightforward values, this professional care isn’t usually necessary. If assets in complex divorces are not professionally valued, one spouse is more likely to receive an unfair amount of assets.
Complex divorces may involve assets like real estate, stock options, investment portfolios, retirement accounts, or individual assets such as art or luxury vehicles. These assets can be valued in many different ways, and an attorney has access to the professional resources needed to accurately value marital assets.
High-asset and complex-asset divorces may also have significant tax implications that other divorces do not. There are tax implications to dividing assets such as retirement accounts, investment portfolios, selling all or portions of a business, or selling stock. Professional accountant advice is useful when determining how this will impact each spouse and how that impact should be allocated.
In a complex divorce, parties may also disagree on what is separate or marital property. Separate property is not divided in a divorce, as it includes any property that was gained prior to the marriage. However, there are cases where separate property can be transmuted or commingled to become marital property. Certain assets may also be considered separate assets despite being obtained during a marriage, such as inheritance, gifts, or assets obtained with separate property.
In California, the court assumes that all assets obtained during a marriage are marital property. A spouse who wishes to prove otherwise must show essential financial documents and proof. An attorney can help obtain this documentation and advocate for the accurate classification of assets.
How Are Debts Divided in an Irvine Divorce?
Just like assets, debts are divided according to community property laws or a separation agreement if they are marital assets. These may include home mortgages, student loans, credit card debt, car payments, and other debts. If a couple obtained it during their marriage, it is considered a marital asset. Separate debts, including those gained prior to marriage and after the date of separation, are not divided between spouses.
Division of Property and the Date of Separation
Assets and debts obtained after the date of separation are considered separate property and are not subject to division. Determining the date of separation is important, but it can sometimes be difficult to prove. In Irvine, the date of separation is:
- When one spouse, by word or actions, intended to end the marriage. This action may include moving out.
- The spouse’s actions following this action are consistent with that intention.
If spouses are disagreeing about the date of separation, this can increase conflict in proceedings. An experienced attorney can determine how to prove the date of separation.
Why Is a Separation Agreement Useful for My Complex Divorce?
Some divorces cannot avoid going to court. If spouses file for a contested divorce from the beginning or find themselves unable to reach a settlement agreement, their divorce case will go through court. For most divorces, including complex divorces, it is preferable to find a solution through an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR includes collaborative divorce and mediation, and it enables spouses to reach a compromise without the court having control over the outcome of the divorce.
ADR can be especially useful for complex-asset divorces. Divorces with high-value assets are often difficult to split according to community property laws. Spouses can create a more optimal and fair division of assets by negotiating with each other and with experienced asset division attorneys. Attorneys ensure that each spouse’s rights are protected, and they know what the court is or isn’t likely to accept as a fair agreement. Attorneys can also help facilitate a faster agreement and suggest potential solutions to the issues of property division.
Other types of complex divorces involving contentious custody or support proceedings may require litigation. However, couples can manage some of their divorce through a separation agreement and then have the court decide on issues they can’t agree on. Your attorneys can walk you through your legal options to find one that is ideal for you and your family.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help With My Complex Divorce?
A complex divorce is more efficient, less stressful, and more likely to reach a resolution that you’re content with when you work with an attorney. An experienced family law attorney with experience in your kind of divorce has essential resources and professional connections to aid in the divorce process. Asset valuation, asset classification, tax implications, and interpersonal disputes are all issues frequently present in complex divorces.
An attorney with knowledge of complex divorces understands when your divorce requires a more aggressive approach. If your spouse is uncooperative or purposefully disagreeable, an attorney can determine when discovery or other court intervention is necessary. Your attorney can work to resolve the divorce without litigation, but they also have the court experience necessary to manage a court case if it is needed.
Other Factors That May Make a Divorce Complex
Complex and high-value assets are common reasons why a divorce becomes complex, but there are other causes. These include:
Volatile and Uncooperative Spouses
Any divorce has the potential to become contentious or disagreeable. In some divorces, however, one spouse is angry, uncooperative, and actively dragging out the divorce process. This can make for an incredibly complex divorce. These issues may be created by a vindictive spouse, a spouse dealing with mental health disorders, or a spouse who was abusive in a relationship. These complicated issues need the attention of an experienced and compassionate attorney who can protect the rights of the other spouse.
An attorney can also recognize when litigation is a necessary step. Disagreements between spouses do not mean that a separation agreement is impossible. However, if one spouse routinely changes their mind on resolved decisions or refuses to agree to any conditions, the case may need to be handled by the court. While a spouse can drag out ADR discussions as long as they want, the court will eventually come to a resolution that a spouse can’t avoid.
Contested Child Custody and Visitation
An Irvine child custody case is already difficult and emotional. A contested case is more stressful, and it is often harder on the entire family. These cases typically end up in court, which means that the final custody order is no longer in the control of the parents. It’s important to have a legal advocate to argue for what is in your children’s interests. An attorney may also be able to speed up contested custody cases and try to limit the stressful impact on you and your children.
Any divorce case will have some form of discovery, where spouses exchange financial information to determine the division of property. In uncontested divorces where spouses create a separation agreement, the discovery process is often informal. In contested divorces and some uncontested divorces, discovery is a formal process ordered by the court.
Spouses must provide a complete picture of their income, assets, debts, and other financial information during discovery. Some spouses may attempt to hide assets during the discovery process. They may do this to keep assets from their spouse or to ensure that they receive a higher portion of marital assets.
If an individual suspects that their spouse is hiding assets, additional steps in formal discovery can be used to find those assets. Unfortunately, this also complicates the divorce process and makes it take longer. An attorney can help you determine your next steps if you think your spouse is hiding assets.
Disputes Over Property
Even if spouses do not have a high number of assets, disputes over the division of property can still make for a complex divorce. There may be issues over what is a fair division and whether certain assets are classified as marital or separate property. There may also be issues with prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that govern a couple’s division of property. The agreement may be invalid, or one spouse may be claiming that it is invalid. These disputes can be resolved more easily with a legal professional who has the resources to determine how property should be classified and valued.
How Much Do You Pay a Divorce Lawyer in California?
The cost of a divorce attorney in California depends on several factors. The average cost for a family law attorney in California is $363 an hour, but the hourly amount may be anywhere from $200 to $600 an hour. The factors that impact the cost of a divorce lawyer include:
The Attorney’s Experience
An attorney with decades of experience and success in complex divorce cases likely has a higher rate than an attorney who is just beginning to handle divorce cases.
Although you may want to select an attorney with a lower rate, be cautious. This attorney may not have the skills to successfully manage your divorce case, leaving you with an unsatisfactory resolution to your case. They also may end up costing more. Most divorce cases are charged on an hourly rate, and a less experienced attorney may take many more hours to successfully close the divorce case.
An attorney with a high rate does not necessarily have the most experience or success. Review an attorney’s past cases and ask questions about their experience to determine if you can trust them with your case.
The Fee Structure
The majority of divorce cases are charged on an hourly basis. In straightforward divorce proceedings, where an attorney simply has to review and file a separation agreement, the attorney may simply charge a flat fee. Divorce attorneys may also charge a retainer fee. This essentially puts the attorney’s services on hold, ensuring that you can receive the legal care you need.
The Attorney’s Location
Attorneys located where the cost of living is higher, such as in a city, will likely have a higher rate. Attorneys located in rural areas likely have lower rates. It’s important to find an attorney who is local to your area and the courts that you may be working with. Local attorneys develop professional relationships with local court systems, which can help the case go more smoothly.
The Complexity of Your Case
The more complicated a divorce case is, the more expensive it is likely to be. An attorney can review your case and determine the hourly rate. If the case is contentious or complex, this rate is likely to be higher. Additionally, complex cases take longer to resolve, increasing the costs when you are charged at an hourly rate.
Whether the Case Goes to Court
Divorce cases that enter litigation will take longer and have higher rates than divorces resolved through ADR. Be aware that, along with increased attorney fees, court cases will have additional court costs and requirements.
Work With a Dedicated and Detailed Divorce Attorney
Complex property and contentious divorce issues can result in emotional challenges and complicated legal processes. Let the attorneys at The Goldberg Legal Group support you and use our experience and resources to find the ideal solution for your complex divorce. Contact our team today.