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Fiduciary Duties of Managing Community Property: What a Managing Spouse Must Know

Under California law, spouses owe each other certain duties both during the marriage, and after separation before the property is divided. These duties are fiduciary in nature, and held to the same standard as those between business partners. Family Code section 721(b) states in pertinent part that: "...This confidential relationship is a fiduciary relationship subject to the same rights and duties of nonmarital business partners...included but not limited to the following: 1. Providing each spouse access at all times to any books kept regarding a transaction for the purposes of inspection and copying; 2. Rendering upon request, true and full information of all things affecting any transaction which concerns the community property. Nothing in this section is intended to impose a duty for either spouse to keep detailed books and records of community property transactions, and 3. Accounting to the spouse, and holding as a trustee, any benefit or profit derived from any transaction by one spouse without the consent of the other spouse which concerns the community property."

Remember to think of divorce as a financial transaction

It doesn't matter if you have $10 sitting in your bank account or $10 million -- the emotional cost of giving up on your marriage is about the same. However, high-asset divorces can be a lot more cumbersome and difficult to get through simply because there's a lot more worth fighting over.

Divorce season begins as soon as the holidays are over

When the Christmas season ends, "divorce season" usually begins. It's such a common occurrence that family law attorneys even refer to the first Monday after Christmas break as "Divorce Day," because their email boxes are usually clogged with requests for appointments and the phones start ringing off the hook.

Putting all your assets on the table may help you preserve them

Marriages don't usually sour overnight. Instead, they tend to slowly fall apart, with each spouse gradually becoming more independent and thinking of himself or herself as an individual, rather than part of a couple. That's often reflected in their finances as well, because it isn't uncommon for one or both spouses to have hidden a little money away for a rainy day without telling the other person.

Can you have your divorce petition dismissed?

Maybe you filed for divorce as an emotional response to something that you've now worked through with your spouse, and you'd like to stay married. Maybe there have been other significant life changes that make it appear your marriage isn't going to end after all. Once the paperwork is in, can you stop it, or are you stuck having to move forward with a divorce you no longer want?

Post-divorce tips to help you move on

It can be hard to move forward after a divorce, even if you know that the divorce was smart and the best decision for all involved. These tips can help you move on and perhaps even reinvent yourself a bit as you step into this next stage in your life.

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