The Law with Shaw| Marital Property

law with shaw(a.k.a: Yours, Mine, & Ours)

By Steven Shaw
Attorney & Certified Financial Planner

As promised, we are continuing with the subject of marital property, specifically financial assets and a quiz to determine legal eagle bragging rights.

Remember Buford and Sara Beth? Buford and Sara Beth get hitched and move in to the 1972 Marlette 12×60 single wide that Buford had bought prior to marriage for $4,999.

His purchase prior to marriage makes the trailer Buford’s Separate Property. But, Buford is still making monthly payments of $200.00 on the owner financing on the home of their dreams, and now that they are married his paychecks from the chicken processing plant are Community Property.

Additionally, this particular year and make of trailer is soon featured on the new hit tv show “My Redneck Dream Home”, and immediately increases in value to the astonishing price of $9,999 plus tax.

After two years of less than wedded bliss, Sara Beth files for divorce from Buford. What rights, if any, does Sara Beth have to their financial assets? Also, assume Buford owned 100 shares of publicly traded stock in his chicken processing employer, (ticker symbol CLUCK) at the time of marriage. Stock price at time of marriage is $10 per share. Total value $1,000.

After getting hitched, Buford’s investment portfolio had the following events, all with a corresponding property characterization by yours truly.

A. 2 for 1 stock split: Buford’s Separate Property estate now owns 200 shares of CLUCK stock, share price of $5, still total value of $1,000.

B. CLUCK issues a $1 cash dividend in each share of stock. The dividend is characterized as Community Property and Buford should just cash the check.

C. CLUCK issues a $1 stock dividend. This is also a Community Property asset and Buford should either put it in a different account for him and Sara Beth’s nest egg or spend it. If it is reinvested in his Separate Property investment account it becomes a commingled asset and subject to division on divorce. (Think of the stock as egg yolks, with the Separate Property eggs being brown and the Community Property eggs being white). As long as you keep them in different bowls when you crack them open you will be able to tell which is which. Mix them in the same bowl and they are irreversibly commingled and the Community Property presumption applies.

Now, here is a quiz for anyone wanting to claim legal eagle bragging rights. Feel free to email with your analysis or any questions.

Buford also bought 20 acres with the ‘72 Marlette and had himself 10 milk cows, 10 beef cows and a bull. They were all owned before marriage to Sara Beth. Sara Beth owned a

cattle ranch next door to Buford’s 20 acre “spread” and her bull was always jumping the fence and then jumping Buford’s cows. (Her bull was much bigger than Buford’s bull).

On the day they got hitched Buford had 6 cows already knocked up by Sara Beth’s bull and 4 knocked up by his bull. After the weddin’ day the other 10 cows got themselves knocked up as well. (Don’t know the culprit on these). Buford spent a lot of his pay having his hay pasture fertilized so his cows could eat well the upcoming winter. Remembering the “Inception of Title Doctrine”, considering the “Conception of Title Hypothesis” and the “Right to Reimbursement” of one property’s estate to another’s what is the characterization of the following:

Calves from cows knocked up prior to marriage by Buford’s bull?

Calves from cows knocked up prior to marriage by Sara Beth’s bull?
Calves from cows knocked up after the marriage?
Any Reimbursement Claims?

Good luck and see you next week.


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