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Community property division likely to be an issue in Wonder’s divorce

California, like Nevada, is one of nine states which recognize the division of community property. This includes most types of property acquired during the marriage by either spouse. For prolific musician Stevie Wonder, this is likely to be a sizable gain, earned from appearances and royalties, for example. Community property division means the gains that qualify are split down the middle. Wonder’s wife stands to make a good financial gain from this law, unless they had a prenuptial agreement protecting Wonder’s fortune.

For Nevada attorneys, the first step in dealing with asset division is deciding which assets are communal and are liable to be divided and which assets are purely individual. This is not as straight-forward as it may seem. Debts incurred during the marriage are also divided, and assets from before the marriage that may have gained value during can be considered under part of the community property.

However, there is the potential for a mutual agreement — which would negate the need for the community property to be divided 50-50. This requires both parties to agree, which in an average divorce, could be likely. In the high-asset case of a celebrity such as Stevie Wonder, the other spouse may seek community property division.

Another complicating factor: separation. Wonder and his wife have been separated since 2009. In the two-and-a-half year span since then, any earnings may be able to be kept individually if they did not intend to reconcile and end their separation.

As you can see, the issue of community property division is a complex one. For couples dealing with a divorce in one of the nine states which recognizes the law, an attorney is the perfect first step.

Source: Reuters, “Stevie Wonder’s Divorce Papers Filed, Seeks Joint Custody,” Deanne Katz, Esq., Aug. 3, 2012

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