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What is "community property" in California?

When a California couple decides to end their marriage, they must face the question of how to divide their property. Most states use the "equitable division" method in which the property is divided in a way that is fair to both parties. California recognizes two kinds of marital property: community property and non-marital property. Community property must be divided equally between the spouses, whereas non-marital property is awarded to the spouse who owns it. The rule is simple enough, but its application can be complex.

What is the "Brown Rule" in California divorces?

One of the most difficult questions to answer in any California divorce is the treatment of accumulated benefits in retirement plans belonging to one spouse or the other. If the benefits are fully vested, that is, the spouse who earned the benefits owns 100% of all benefits to which he or she may be entitled, the couple can include the fully-vested amount in their calculations of the property division. But what happens to benefits that are not fully vested?

What is a QDRO and how does it work?

In most Sacramento divorces, the largest or second largest asset is the retirement plan of one or both spouses, and dividing the assets in a plan can become complicated. All income earned by a retirement plan after the marriage took place is deemed community property, and state law requires that it be split equally between the divorcing spouses. Many retirement plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), and distributions may trigger harmful tax consequences for the person that is the beneficiary. The most effective method of dividing pension benefits is the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO").

California woman wins 50 years of child support from ex-husband

California laws contain several remedies for women whose ex-husbands do not pay child or spousal support. The state has an agency that helps locate ex-spouses and assists in seeking court enforcement of an existing order for child or spousal support. Unfortunately for women of an earlier generation, these remedies did not exist, and many women were forced to get along without the support payments that had been ordered by the court. One California woman who found herself in that situation was able to find her former husband and persuade him to pay what he owed her. She was successful in recovering child support payments from her ex-husband 50 years after they had been divorced.

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