California Property Division Laws

When a couple files for a divorce in California, they are responsible for dividing both marital assets and debt. While most states follow “equitable distribution” rules, California is one of several states that follow “community property” guidelines. 

In a community property state, a couple’s “community property” must be equally divided, unless there is a written agreement that says otherwise. Community property consists of assets a couple acquired during their marriage. 

A judge will subtract a couple’s debts from their community property to calculate the “net community estate.” Generally, the net community estate will be divided in half and a share is given to each spouse. 

Common types of marital assets include: 

  • Income each spouse earned during the marriage 

  • The marital home 

  • Cars and other vehicles 

  • Joint bank and savings accounts 

  • Pensions and retirement accounts 

  • A business or professional practice 

Keep in mind, community property division simply means an equal 50/50 split of the value of property, rather than literally dividing each physical object. For example, if one spouse is awarded the marital home, then the other will receive the family business or any assets that equal to the value of the marital home. 

On the other hand, “separate property” is not part of the property division phase in divorce. Separate property is defined as assets a spouse owned before getting married. Additionally, separate property also includes a gift or inheritance belonging to only one spouse. 

However, when separate property mixes with community property, then separate property loses its separate character due to “commingling.” For instance, if one spouse receives an inheritance but uses some of the money to pay for the mortgage of the marital home, which was purchased after the couple got married, then some of the inheritance is considered community property in a divorce. 

If you are interested in filing for a divorce in Los Angeles, contact TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP today at (310) 455-8364 to let our experienced attorneys protect your rights and best interests. Our legal team consists of three Board-Certified Family Law Specialists! 

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