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How to avoid unequal distribution of property during a California divorce

On Behalf of | May 25, 2018 | Property Division

Probably one of the most contentious tasks for any couple to agree on would be the division and distribution of property and assets during a divorce. Making through the separation of the assets in mutual agreement without the need for additional intervention is certainly a welcome situation for both spouses.

If in case you’re unable to settle the issue of property distribution with your spouse, a California family law judge will have to do it for you.

To begin with, property distribution in a divorce agreement across the United States is conducted via state law. Asset division follows either community property or equitable division state laws. California is a community property state.

How is property divided?

Marital assets can be distinguished into Separate and Community property.

Community property is everything co-owned by a married couple, or all property obtained and collected during the marriage, regardless of efforts and skill put in by either spouse.

Separate Property on the other hand covers everything owned by a spouse before marriage. Generally not divided during divorce agreements, separate property is retained by the owner spouse.

Separate Property

Here is a shortlist of assets that fall under separate property

  • Any inheritance or a gift awarded to a particular spouse, even if received during the marriage.
  • Property obtained before marriage, for instance, a savings bank account, etc.
  • Pension earnings proceeds received before marriage.
  • Businesses owned before the marriage.

Community Property

In the state of California property and assets accumulated during the marriage are separated equally between both spouses.

Community Property State Law doesn’t call for division of each object, but an estimated net value of jointly owned property is divided equally. For instance, a spouse can be given the family residence, while the other receives the business.

Basically the couple shares everything equally, the property and the debts. At times, families have to sell the house and share the proceeds earned, or if a spouse would like to continue living in the house, they would then need to buy the other half.

There are cases where the separate property can get muddled in with community property in something called commingling. In this case, it is difficult to tell the difference between what once was separate property from community property.

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