Family Law

Division of Assets and Property

Division of Assets and Property Attorney in California

Part of your divorce involves dividing your property and debts. Property is anything you can buy or sell or has value. For example, a house, car, or furniture. It’s also things like a bank account, pension, 401k, or stocks. Even if you divided everything informally when you separated, a judge still needs to make a formal order about these issues. This doesn’t mean you have to go to court. A judge could formally approve an agreement you and your spouse write up. If you can't decide, a judge can decide for you at a hearing or trial.

To tell the judge what you want to happen, you'll need to understand some legal terms and some California property law. You’ll see terms like separate and community property on many court forms. These are important to know because this is how a court will decide how to divide your property. In general, you keep your separate property and split your community property. Community property: What you own or owe together during your marriage Did you live outside California for part of your marriage? Then it's called quasi-community property. Learn more Separate property Separate property: What you each own or owe individually from before you married or after you separated, and any gifts or inheritance

Community or separate? You need to know your date of separation You need to know when you married and when you separated to figure out what's separate property and what's community property. The day of your marriage is generally easy to figure out. Separation can be trickier.

Date of separation:
The day that one of you let the other one know (by actions or words) that they wanted to end your marriage After that day, your or their actions were consistent with wanting to end your marriage For some people, this is the day they moved out. For others, this is a day the two spouses agreed together that their marriage was over, and they made plans to divorce. Generally, from that day forward, what you or your spouse earned or loans you took out were no longer community property.

How to tell when something is community property Generally, this is what either of you earned (or debt you took out) after you married, but before you separated. The “community” is you and your spouse. The property belongs to you both equally.

Community property is:
Anything you earned while married Anything you bought with money you earned while married Debt you take on while married Property you didn’t earn, like a gift or inheritance one of you received while married, is not community property.

Have student debt? There are different rules. Learn more You may have more community property than you realize. Many people don’t think about retirement or pension plans. You have the right to part of the money in that plan if any of it was earned during your marriage.
You may have more community debts than you realize. Your spouse may have debt in only their name that you don’t know about. Usually, these debts belong to you both.