Family Law Blog

California Property Division is Complicated

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When two people enter into marriage, they are not thinking about the day that they might divorce and have to divide their property.  Maybe they should, though, because in California the divorce rate is 60 percent, ten percent higher than the national average.  

Most people know that California is a community property state, meaning that when it comes to divorce and property division, all assets, income and debt acquired while living with a spouse (or domestic partner) are divided and distributed equally.  Assets or debts acquired during the marriage through a gift or inheritance do not count as community property.

Although the idea of community property is fairly straightforward, in practice it is more complicated, particularly if the parties involved have accumulated a lot of assets and debts during the marriage.  A complex married financial life often makes for a complex divorce.

For example, a couple's community property might include a house, a rental property, automobiles, furniture, clothing, a business, checking accounts, retirement plans, stocks and bonds, life insurance and more.  Dividing these equally is often a challenge.  To illustrate, how is the marital home split since the court cannot physically divide it?  In some cases, the couple sells the house and evenly distributes the proceeds. In others, one spouse keeps the house and buys out the other's share.

Sometimes items that seem as though they belong to one person actually belong to both.  For example, suppose the husband saved $100 every month from his job income to buy a boat.  Even though he paid for the boat, it actually belongs to the husband and his wife because the husband bought the boat with money earned during the marriage.  Any income generated during the marriage is community property.  By extension, so is anything purchased with that money.

If you are contemplating divorce and wondering about property division, then contact us. Our experienced, skilled attorney will review your case.  We are here to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

 

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