More than Just Common Sense: The Rules for the Simultaneous Exchange of Deeds and Equalizing Payments
David Youngsmith is a Certified Family Law Specialist, and a principal of the Hersh Family Law Practice, L.P. Prior to joining the firm in 2006, David had his own family law practice for several years. From 1985 to 2000, he was a member of the editorial staff at LexisNexis Matthew Bender, where he was the Managing Editor responsible for several national and California family law publications, including California Family Law Practice and Procedure, 2nd Edition, the California Family Law Litigation Guide, and the California Family Law Monthly. David was also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Golden Gate University School of Law, where he taught Legal Writing and Research. He currently serves as a family law settlement master in both the Marin County and San Francisco Superior Courts, and is a panelist at the Bar Association of San Francisco’s "Annual Family Law Developments and Strategies" seminar.
We have all had many cases in which community real property is awarded to one spouse, subject to an equalizing payment by the other spouse. Typically, the parties simultaneously exchange a deed and a check. We follow that practice so often, and so often without question, that it seems almost axiomatic. Without thinking about it too much, it is just common sense: the deed is security for the payment. Nevertheless, unimpressed by that explanation, a settlement master in one of my recent cases asked me for legal authority supporting a simultaneous exchange. After some investigation, this is what I found: