What classifies as a “Complicated Issue?” Many things can become complicated, especially if you do it yourself. Some things seem simple, but they are more complicated than they seem when you know more about them. Other things are complicated at the start, just because of their very nature. Complicated divorce issues may include: stock options, business ownership, disability awards, reimbursements, and intellectual property, to name just a few. Each of these complicated issues may require special attention and expertise to evaluate and resolve appropriately; failure to consult an expert may result in losing-out in ways not even realized.
Stock options can comprise the majority of a couple’s assets these days, especially in the Bay Area. There are different formulas for determining how many options are community property v. separate property, depending on the circumstances and details of the option grant and the dates of marriage and separation.
- Was the grant an incentive for a new employee to join the company?
- Was the grant an incentive to retain an employee over a period of time?
- Was the grant a reward or bonus for past performance?
Business ownership can be tricky in so many ways. If you’re not the spouse running and/or controlling the business, how do you know it will be accurately valued? If you are the spouse running and/or controlling the business and you buy-out your spouse’s interest in it, do you realize that you may have to pay your spouse to buy the business and then also pay spousal support, based on the income from the business you just bought, effectively paying for it twice?!
Disability and personal injury awards sound similar but can be treated differently under the law. Workers compensation awards could also be classified in this section. Determining whether such awards are community property or separate property depends on various factors, including when the injury occurred, when the award was received, and what types of damages the award was intended to compensate.
Reimbursements for post-separation payment of community debts with separate property earnings is statutory, but often people, including some attorneys, fail to realize that the right to reimbursement is lost if the payments are in lieu of paying support. Also, some counties’ local court rules impose specific procedures as prerequisite to collecting such reimbursements at trial.
Intellectual property includes copyrights, patents, and trademarks, to name the most common. These property rights can be very valuable, or become very valuable over time. Yet one party, or both parties, may not realize that they even possess an asset. This area can be so easily overlooked or undervalued.
What you don’t know can hurt you, especially when it comes to complicated issues.
The Law Office of Andrew J. McCall represents Family Law litigants in Contra Costa & Solano Counties, so, if you know someone who has been trying to do his/her own divorce and is having problems, have him/her contact us to discuss representation or consultation or just help with forms.