Stars' split has many speculating on property division

Southern California is a haven for the rich and famous, and many local residents may even have movie stars or moguls as their neighbors. One recent story though, may have surprised even those used to news about celebrity divorces: the recent breakup of actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

While the split may have surprised some, tabloid reports have been hinting at a divorce for months. The divorce filing, which was initiated by Garner, has thrown media attention on aspects of California's property division system. The division of assets in a California divorce can be affected greatly by the length of the marriage. For example, a marriage longer than 10 years is considered a long-term union by the state. As a result, spousal support is affected, and the spouse who earns less can often petition for more support or for a longer duration of support.

In the case of Affleck and Garner, the divorce filing came almost exactly 10 years after their wedding. Some speculate that the timing of the filing could be influenced by a prenuptial agreement between the pair. There could be a monetary clause that only goes into effect after 10 years of marriage. In some cases, a prenuptial agreement will note that if a marriage lasts a certain amount of time, the higher-earning spouse will give the other a certain amount of money for each year of marriage. It is not known if such a clause exists between Affleck and Garner, but those types of clauses are not unheard of in high asset divorces.

Division of marital property and assets in California can be a complicated venture, even if there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place. When both parties enter a marriage with significant wealth, and then amass more during the course of the marriage, there may be complex property division issues to navigate. An Orange County divorce attorney can offer insight on the timing of a divorce filing, as well as the assertion of rights during property division and enforcement of prenuptial agreements if necessary.