Property Is Not Always Split 50/50 in a California Divorce
Many married couples approach life as partners. They work hard through years of married partnership, reaching for financial goals together. Some buy their dream house, build a substantial nest-egg for their retirement, and maybe even save up and indulge in other valuable items. When these couples find themselves facing a divorce, they usually have a lot of questions about California community property law and how California divides assets and liabilities during a divorce. Most importantly, they wonder if the property is always split 50/50 during an Orange County, California divorce.
Before discussing a definitive answer to the question, it’s important to consider the different types of property acknowledged by the court.
Community Property in California Divorce: When a couple legally marries or registers a domestic partnership, they comprise what the California court recognizes as a “community.” As a community property state, California theoretically considers any property or debts acquired by either member of a marriage or domestic partnership belongs equally to both parties.
Separate Property in California Divorce: This refers to any property either spouse proves they owned or owed before the marriage and that they kept separate during the marriage or domestic partnership.
Transmuted Property in California Divorce: This refers to situations when the characterization (community or separate) changes during a marriage or domestic partnership. Changing the characterization of property needs to be done via a written agreement between the two parties. Without a valid, written agreement, the only way to show transmutation of property during a California divorce is by using the tracing principle. The tracing principle refers to one party’s ability to clearly show how a property goes from one form to another. If the tracing principle does not apply, and there is no written agreement changing the characterization of the property, the court will consider the property in its original form.
Assuming that every community asset or debt acquired during a California marriage or domestic partnership will be split 50/50 during divorce is a mistake. It is also a mistake to assume that any separate property or debt acquired before a California marriage will remain with the spouse who was the original owner and not be included in the division of assets.
If you are concerned about facing the challenges surrounding the division of community property and debts in an Orange County, California divorce, contact one of the experienced divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm. We can help you manage the complex negotiations required during the division of assets.
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