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How is marital property divided in California?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2022 | Property Division

When a married couple divorces, it is almost certain that the subject of property division will come up. And just like child custody and visitation, property division can be a very emotional topic because assets are a reflection of your hard work. Besides, some of these assets may hold sentimental value. 

Understanding how California’s marital property division law works can help you know what to expect when filing for a divorce. 

The rules for dividing marital assets in California

California applies what is known as community property law when dividing marital property. Generally, this means that any asset or debt acquired during the marriage is presumed to be equally owned by the couple. Thus, in the event of a divorce, the community estate in question has to be divided on a 50-50 basis. 

While each party may be entitled to a 50-50 share of the marital property, this does not automatically mean that every asset or debt will be divided equally. Rather, it simply means that if the couple’s assets are worth, say, $500,000, then each party will be entitled to $250,000 worth of assets. For instance, the husband may get the car and the wife the boat as long as each party gets an equal share of the marital property. 

Are there exceptions to this rule?

While California applies the community property rule during the divorce, there are instances when the couple may choose not to divide the shared property equally. For instance, if the couple signed a prenup that specifies how property will be shared in the event of a divorce, and both parties are in agreement with the document’s content, then the property may not be divided on a 50-50 basis. Still, a couple can also negotiate their own divorce settlement without involving the court, and this too may not lead to a 50-50 split. 

Property division can be highly contentious. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests while dividing marital property.