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What may be considered fair when it comes to property division?

Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. When negotiating a divorce, California residents may find that this is a subject on which they cannot agree, especially when it comes to property division. The laws surrounding this subject can be quite complex, depending on the state in which one resides.

Oil tycoon Harold Hamm is currently locked in a heated dispute with his ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall, over what each party considers to be a fair settlement. Arnall was awarded a $972 million settlement, a sum that represents only 6 percent of the total assets accrued during the couple's 25-year marriage. She feels that her contribution to the marriage has been diminished in the eyes of the judge, who has allegedly failed to provide her with a breakdown of his calculations. In addition, Arnall has some disputes over specific real estate.

It can be very difficult to establish the difference between community and separate property. In California, property acquired during a marriage is likely to be considered community property, with very few specific exceptions. Certain factors will have to be taken into account when questions arise. For example, when one partner inherits cash or real estate, then the question may be whether it has been bequeathed to that spouse alone, or to both parties jointly.

Understanding the difference between separate and community property is key to ensuring that assets are correctly classified. In order to achieve an equal settlement, California residents facing divorce are advised to create lists of all of the assets and debts held by them and their partners. By carefully examining the lists, ensuring that no assets are hidden or undervalued, an attorney can ensure that property division is carried out in the correct manner.

Source: businessweek.com, "Ex-Wife of Continental Chief Wants More than $972 Million", Laurel Brubaker Calkins, Dec. 05, 2014

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