An important part of your divorce is dividing the marital property and debts that you have accumulated together over the course of your marriage. You will also need to obtain a formal court order to finalize these issues. In California, you can discuss how you would like to divide your property and debts, but the final word must still come from the judge.
Please note that although it is mandatory for the judge to have the last word, it doesn’t mean that you must go to court. However, if you are not able to decide on the property and debt division, you would then need to appear in court.
What are the different types of property according to California law?
California is considered a community property state. This means there are two types of property in divorce: separate and community. Community property consists of assets and debts that you own jointly with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Separate property is property that you own separately.
In order to determine which assets fall into which category, you need to look at the date of the marriage and the date of the separation. Community property, which you will divide, is anything that you earned during the marriage, any purchases that you made with money that you earned during the marriage and any debt that you obtained while you were married. Regarding debt, whether you are aware of debts that your spouse accumulated or not, if they were accumulated during the marriage, they are your debts too.
For the most part, property you owned before the marriage may be considered separate. However, it is common for separate property to become commingled with community property during a marriage, as the spouses share resources over the years. This can sometimes complicate property division in divorce.
The concept of which assets you will need to divide may seem simple but the execution of that often becomes complicated. What often lends itself to the complication is being able to understand clearly which assets need to be divided and which don’t. This is where a divorce attorney’s advice may really help your case. With divorce, emotions often run high and having an objective, experienced attorney by your side can help to keep things in perspective so that you walk away with what is fair. Then you can move on to a new future.