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Is property always split equally in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Divorce

Property division is usually the most complex aspect of a divorce, especially if you and your spouse own a lot of property. California is one of only a few states that follow a community property model for divorce.

Community property refers to all assets and liabilities you and your spouse acquired while you were married. Separate property is property that each of you owned individually before you were married or after you separated. Gifts or inheritances can also be separate property.

The importance of your date of separation

This means that your date of separation can be an important factor in your property division. Only community property gets divided between you and your spouse in your divorce, so if there is any property you want to keep for yourself, you must show you obtained it after your date of separation or before you were married.

The goal of the community property law is to divide the property equitably, which means in a manner fair to both spouses. This does not always mean equally. Sometimes other factors are considered.

Filling out your financial disclosure

You and your spouse must both submit financial disclosures to the court as part of the divorce process. You must include community and separate property in the disclosure.

When it comes time to divide the community property, any separate property could be a factor supporting an unequal division of community property.

For example, if your spouse received a large inheritance after your date of separation, you would not receive any of that inheritance because it is separate property.

However, you can argue that your spouse’s inheritance leaves them in a much better financial position than you and therefore you should receive a higher portion of the community property.

Know your options

While the legal issues are largely the same from one divorce to another, the specific financial details can be very different, and can require different strategies. Overall, any California divorce is likely to involve complex financial questions that are best answered by a professional.