One of the greatest points of contention during a divorce involves dividing property, especially when couples can’t come to an agreement. California follows community property rules, meaning that both assets and debt acquired during the course of a marriage has to be divided equally between parties when getting divorced. Here are the key points to establish how to divide your property.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Should there be no prenuptial agreement in place, all property gained during the marriage will be regarded as being community property. Separate property is any asset or debt belonging to a spouse before the marriage or a gift or inheritance received, which remains the property of that individual. Establishing whether property belongs to one or both spouses can turn into a complicated issue, especially when there has been commingling of property by turning separate property into a communal asset without realizing it.
Spouses can either attach value to the property inventory or, should they not be able to agree on this, the court will do it on their behalf. Appraisers can assist in determining the value of property such as businesses or unique items, while qualified financial professionals will be able to determine the value of retirement assets. Once the value of assets is established, you and your spouse need to reach an agreement on how it will be divided.
The gist of community property is that both parties need to receive 50% of the value when getting divorced. This could mean that one party could buy the other’s 50% share if the spouse might consider it, or that one party could keep the marital home and the other take ownership of another property of equal value. All communal debt should also be calculated, and if possible paid off once the divorce is settled, although the mortgage of the house can be refinanced, for example, if one spouse is buying the other out.