California is a community property state, and this means that you typically must divide your assets equally. This does not necessarily mean that each individual asset must be divided in half. The California Family Code provides the Court with broad powers to equally divide the value of the marital estate.
Which assets do you have to divide?
The marital estate consists of all assets acquired during the marriage. Assets owned before the marriage and anything you inherited or were gifted during the marriage may be characterized as separate property.
The most significant and valuable asset in a marital estate is often real property including your home.
Aside from real property, assets typically include:
- Household furniture and goods
- Jewelry, art, antiques, and memorabilia
- Personal property
- Bank accounts
- Stock accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Business interests
- Family businesses
At the outset of your case, you and your spouse will be required to provide financial disclosures which will include the value and/or estimated value of your assets. For assets where you do not agree on the value, you may need to pursue an appraisal or valuation by a third party.
You and your spouse may also consider and seek creative ways to divide your marital assets.
Property division also includes debts
In addition to the total assets owned, each party will also take on an equal share of the debts accrued during the marriage. It is the balancing of debt and asset that will create the equal share that each partner takes from the proceedings.
Division is a negotiation
You’ve worked hard throughout your marriage to build a good life. Divorce changes how that life looks, but you don’t have to give up everything. With representation you can trust, the property division process can be a lot less contentious than you may have been led to believe.