Property division is a fundamental step to navigate during the divorce process. In this post, we explain how property division works and outline the main characteristics of property division in California.
Property Division: the Basics
The term “property division” refers to the distribution of property and obligations between spouses at divorce.
Here, property includes everything from physical assets such as cars or homes to bank accounts and intellectual property like a patent, for example.
When the spouses can’t agree on how to divide their property when they file for divorce, a judge divides their assets.
The criteria to handle property division varies from state to state. Most states adopt one of two fundamental approaches:
- Community property. A judge classifies all marital property into two categories: community property (owned by both spouses) or separate property. Each spouse keeps their separate property while community property is divided equally (50/50) between the two parties.
- Equitable distribution. This approach privileges a fair but not necessarily equal division. This means that judges don’t have to order a rigorous 50/50 split if they don’t think it’s fair to one of the spouses.
Property Division in California
California is a community property state. This means that all property that the couple acquires during their marriage or partnership belongs to both parties.
Similarly, debt acquired during the marriage or partnership becomes “community debt” and is usually divided equally between the spouses.
This applies even if you acquired property while living in a different state. For example, if you got married in California but moved to Oregon with your spouse for a couple of years and are now living in California, all the property and debts you acquired while in Oregon will be treated as community property at divorce.
Remember that even if you make informal property arrangements with your spouse during the divorce process, the division is not official until a judge makes a formal order.
Finally, a word of caution. Property division is one of the most complex issues within a divorce. Before signing any papers, seek the assistance of a dependable family lawyer to make sure your interests are protected.
At the Rivas Law Group, We Are Focused on You
At the Rivas Law Group, we offer a wide variety of professional and efficient services that go from preliminary legal advice to litigation and civil law for both corporate and private clients.
We have offices in Riverside, California, and Chino, California. Contact us today to learn more about our services. Hablamos español.