Unraveling the Division of Assets During Divorce in California

The division of assets stands as a pivotal step to navigate during the divorce process. In this post, we elucidate how the division of properties functions and delineate the key features of this process in California.

Asset Division: Some Fundamentals

The term “asset division” pertains to the distribution of properties and obligations among spouses in the event of divorce.

Here, the concept of property encompasses everything, from tangible assets like cars or homes to bank accounts and intellectual property, such as a patent, for instance.

When spouses cannot agree on how to divide their assets when filing for divorce, a judge steps in to distribute their assets.

The criteria for handling asset division vary from state to state. Most states adopt one of two fundamental approaches:

  1. Community Property: A judge classifies all marital assets into two categories—community property (belonging to both spouses) or separate property. Each spouse retains their separate property, while community property is divided equally (50/50) between the two parties.
  2. Equitable Distribution: This approach favors a fair but not necessarily equal division. It implies that judges aren’t obligated to mandate a strict 50/50 division if they deem it unfair to one of the spouses.

Asset Division in California

California follows a community property system. This means that all assets acquired by the couple during their marriage or partnership belong to both parties.

Similarly, debts incurred during the marriage or partnership become “community debt” and typically are divided equally between the spouses.

This applies even if you acquired property while residing 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 now reside in California, all assets and debts acquired while in Oregon will be treated as community property at the time of 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 issues a formal order.

Lastly, a crucial piece of advice. Asset division is one of the most intricate issues within a divorce. Before signing any documents, seek the assistance of a trustworthy family lawyer to ensure your interests are safeguarded.

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