How is property divided during a California divorce?

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

If you are planning on divorcing, it is important to understand how property division is conducted to prepare for the process and prioritize needs and interests. Property division during a California divorce is conducted according to community property rules – different than many states, but a very consequential process that will greatly affect the divorce process.

What is community property?

Community property rules call for property to be divided in half when a couple decides to divorce or decides to end their domestic partnership. Property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and is subject to the property division process. Marital property will be divided but not property that is considered separate property.

Property includes anything that can be bought and sold such as a house, cars, furniture and clothing. It can also include anything of value including bank accounts and cash; pension and 401(k) plans; stocks; security deposits on apartments; life insurance that has a cash value; a business; or a patent.

Marital property is property acquired during marriage and separate property is generally property that one of the spouse or domestic partners entered the marriage with. Separate property can include an inheritance, personal injury award, gift or property the spouse or domestic partner had before their marriage or domestic partnership. Commingled property is also another category of property it is important to understand.

During the property division process, divorcing spouses and domestic partners will need to prioritize their interests so they can develop a property division agreement. Knowing how community property division works can be a benefit to divorcing couples who face the challenge of dividing their property.

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