California Divorce: Is Property & Debt Always Divided 50/50?
California is what is known as a community property state, a state in which everything you and your spouse earned or bought during your marriage belongs to both of you in equal measure. But that does not mean that you have to divide everything 50/50.
Are Assets in Divorce Always Split 50/50 in the Community Property States?
Everything that you and your spouse contributed to the marriage during the time you were married (with only a few exceptions) must be divided equitably during your divorce. According to California state law, the way you divide assets and debts must be fair to both parties involved, but it does mean you have to split everything down the middle. For example, many will choose not to sell their vehicles to split the profits equally. Instead, the couple may decide to keep the cars they are used to driving. If one of them is more valuable than the other, the couple may work out an agreement on their own. As long as it’s fair, the judge will usually approve. The law requires that the sum of the assets be split fairly so many couples trade-off. One spouse may get a more valuable vehicle, but the other spouse will receive an item equal to the difference in value.
Assets Included in the Division of Property During a California Divorce: Any of the following that was either earned or contributed to the marriage while you were married must be split equitably.
• Purchased Assets (such as a home or a car)
• Bank Accounts
• Pensions and Employment Benefits
• Student Loans, other Educational Costs or Costs of Earning Professional Licenses
• Professional Practices and Businesses
Assets that are NOT Divided Equitably in a California Divorce:
• Separate property (assets brought into the marriage, gifts directed to one spouse or inheritances)
Sometimes the difference between community property and separate property can be confusing. For instance, you may have owned a house before marriage, but you lived in the house with your spouse during your marriage. The separate property you owned before marriage is not a mix of separate property, and community property referred to as commingled property. Discuss gray areas such as this with an experienced attorney before agreeing to a settlement.
Is Debt Divided 50/50 During a California Divorce?
Similar to assets, both parties in a marriage are responsible for paying any debts acquired during the marriage even if the debt is only in one of your names. In some cases, debt can be used as a means of negotiating for equitable division of property without selling off property and equally dividing the proceeds.
If you are considering filing for divorce and you are not sure how to create an equitable division of property, please get in touch with an experienced California divorce attorney at The Maggio Law Firm today.
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