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Understanding Community Property and Divorce in the State of California  

Generally, when a couple gets married, they then work collectively to achieve financial goals. A married couple will likely decide to buy a home, open a communal savings account for their retirement, and even purchase a family vehicle.

Every partnership faces difficulty, however, and divorce is now a very common outcome. If you are facing divorce, you may have questions with respect to how your assets will be divided. This division is legally referred to as community property and it is important to understand that not only will assets be divided, but liabilities as well. This article will highlight some of the most important factors you should understand with regard to community property in a divorce.

Background: Getting a Divorce in the State of California _ Division of Property

As a California resident, it is likely that you have heard that upon divorce, the spouses will split everything on a 50-50 margin. While this is true, there are differences when it comes to community property and separate, individual property. While property will be divided into both parties, so will the debts. Assets would include financial accounts, vehicles, pensions and retirements as well as real property (real estate). Debts could be credit cards, loans, lines of credit and equity accounts secured by real property. If the court determines these assets to be community, they are subject to the equal division in the divorce/family law case.

Community Property

Community property in the State of California is one of the key elements discussed in the terms of a divorce. Other important elements of a divorce include, but are not limited to:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Spousal support or alimony

The term community property is derived from the understanding that community consists of two individuals who have entered into a partnership when legally married or have registered as a domestic partnership. In the State of California, community property belongs equally to both individuals.

Property Typically Subject to Division

Any property acquired during the marriage by one or both members of the community is often subject to property division. This can include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Boats
  • Income
  • 401(k)
  • Savings
  • Other property and valuables

Similarly, all debts accumulated in the duration of the marriage are part of the community, therefore, subject to division. Regardless of which party acquired the debt, the collected debt will be divided into both parties. The debts subject to division include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Credit cards
  • Mortgage
  • Auto loan
  • Other debts

Separate Property

In a divorce, it is important to understand that there are properties that are considered separate. Separate property includes any property that was either acquired or indebted before the marriage and this property was kept continuously separate in the duration of the marriage and or assets and debts aquired after the date of separation. A few examples of separate property may include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Student loans
  • Inheritance
  • Gifts received during the marriage
  • Property obtained after the date of separation
  • Property attained using separate funds

Seek Legal Support for a Divorce in the State of California

If you are contemplating divorce, it is important to understand your rights. The division of community property could be one of the most stressful and complex matters of a divorce and it is important to consider speaking to a knowledgeable and qualified family law attorney.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP., have extensive experience in dealing with property division in family law matters. They are dedicated to ensuring that the rights of their clients are protected in all divorce cases. If you are going through a divorce in the State of California, seek the advice and support of a knowledgeable and qualified team of attorneys.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.