Married couples spend years and even decades accumulating joint assets. From family homes to shared vehicles to living room furniture, the number of assets that are considered community property can be quite high. This can be overwhelming when going through the divorce process. However, having a better understanding of California state law in regard to property division ease some people's concerns.
Most states in America base property division in divorce proceedings on equitable distribution, which means that property must be divided fairly though not necessarily equally. California is a community property state, so barring a few exceptions, all assets obtained during a marriage -- including income and debt -- are joint property and must be divided equally during divorce. Understanding that property obtained during a marriage are joint assets that must be divided equally is important for those who wish to be proactive and assertive during property division. Still, there is more to the equation, such as determining what property even is.
Property can be defined as anything may be sold or bought, or as anything with value. Motor vehicles, retirement accounts, home furnishings, some life insurance plans, real estate, investments and much more are all considered property. However, by the above definition, debts are not considered property and are treated differently by California state law. Debts incurred during a marriage are divided equitably, meaning that one person might end up with a larger share of debt to repay.
While divorce might not be particularly uncommon, the laws surrounding this process are not always clear. What might seem like a straightforward matter, such as 50/50 property division, can actually be quite complicated. Complex assets such as investments, businesses and more can further complicate things. To avoid making unnecessary mistakes that could lead to financial losses, people often choose to speak with an experienced family law attorney.