Protection of Separate Property

Under California law, property that a spouse or registered domestic partner owns prior to the marriage or domestic partnership or receives by way of gift or inheritance during the marriage or domestic partnership, is that party’s separate property. Such property may include a business started prior to the marriage or domestic partnership or a residence purchased prior to the marriage or domestic partnership. Sometimes the party’s separate property rights are challenged by the other party or the other party claims that the community has acquired an interest in the separate property. Generally the party asserting a separate property interest has the burden of presenting evidence to support that position and sometimes an historical tracing of the funds used to acquire or improve an asset is necessary. At Marx & Duffy we work with our clients, forensic accountants and other professionals as necessary to assist our clients in presenting the available evidence to protect our client’s separate property. We also consult with clients who are not engaged in a dissolution proceeding to assist them in insuring that their separate property interests are protected, regardless of what might occur in the future. We have experience in assisting clients with many different kinds of separate property interests and can assist our clients with our expertise in this area.

Before a couple gets married, the parties can protect their separate property by entering into a Premarital Agreement. Even after marriage, spouses can identify and protect separate property interests by entering into a Postnuptial Agreement. There are important rules governing such agreements that must be adhered to so that the agreement will be valid and enforceable. At Marx & Duffy, we have many years of experience both in drafting and negotiating such agreements and, where necessary, representing parties in litigation concerning the interpretation and validity of these agreements.