The role of a property division lawyer is to try and assist their clients in the equitable separation of shared, community or matrimonial property. A property division lawyer will typically be a highly trained specialist in family law and they have a very important role in the divorce settlement. This is because they work to reduce the most stressful aspect of a traumatic breakup of a relationship or marriage, the division of shared property. Often even when a break-up is on the surface amicable and by mutual consent, things can soon turn very acrimonious as soon as the community or shared property is divided up.
The job of the property division lawyer is to assist their clients in determining initially what is and what is not considered to be community or matrimonial shared property in the eyes of the law. Initially, this might appear to be relatively straightforward but identifying the community property is only the starting point.
The property division lawyer’s task will be to identify all assets and debts acquired during the relationship or marriage. They may well get involved in searching for undeclared or hidden assets should suspicions arise.
Depending on local or national laws all community property should be shared on a 50/50 basis. However, in most cases reaching a settlement on the division of community property will raise some highly complex issues.
Typically the job of a property division lawyer will be to determine an equitable split of a marital estate comprising some real estate, a bank account, and some pension funds that their client finds agreeable. However, there are at times high-value acrimonious break-ups where it becomes very difficult to divide the property in a manner agreeable to either party.
It that case a property division lawyer may have to undertake tasks more akin to a detective in trying to determine the true value of non-financial assets or find hidden assets such as company stocks or foreign bank accounts.
In more complex high-value cases, a property division lawyer may have to deal with the division of a family business, stock portfolio, rare collections such as designer clothes, works of art or vintage cars, which may have very subjective financial valuations but huge personal value. In these cases, the lawyer will need to work with forensic accountants, asset appraisers, or subject matter experts in order to locate and evaluate any of these non-financial assets.
Identifying community property, hidden or deliberately under-valued assets is one thing but getting an amicable split of the value is quite another. This is where the property division lawyer’s knowledge of family law and their negotiation skills come to the fore. The lawyer will be able to take a rational approach to the issue as often there will need to compromise on both sides.
After all, it is a prime objective of the property division lawyer to secure an equitable agreement for their client and prevent the dispute escalating and going to court where a judge will make the decision on how to distribute the property whether the client likes it or not.