Married individuals in California share equal ownership of every asset that is collected during their marriage. Because California law requires that marital property be distributed evenly between a divorcing couple, the process is often intricate and intense. Whether you’re contemplating separation and are unsure of your own rights, or you are already in the middle of a highly contested divorce, seeking assistance from a certified family law firm like TDC Family Law is crucial.
TDC Family Law is a firm founded by Tracy Duell-Cazes. She has devoted her practice, career, and life to family law, which has ultimately helped her assist a myriad of people over the years. Our firm recognizes the power that family law issues can have in your life and is determined to provide accessible support to help you through them. Our commitment to your cause, in addition to our over 34 years of experience, helps our firm provide unmatched family law services here in San Jose. For additional details on property division, and how our certified family law practitioner can help you through your case, reach out to TDC Family Law.
To understand how property division in a California divorce works, you first need to understand community property laws. When a state follows community property laws, it means that all marital property that a couple collects is presumed “community.” In simple terms, it means that a married couple shares equal ownership of all the property that they have acquired together.
Because each spouse has the right to 50% of their marital estate, the property must be divided equally if a couple decides to file for divorce. This can present challenges because most assets cannot be split directly in half unless they are liquidated. To protect community property during a divorce, restrictions are placed on the marital estate to prevent either spouse from hiding, selling, or stealing assets.
There are two main forms of property that the state of California will identify in a divorce. These are known as:
Marital property, otherwise referred to as community property in California, includes the possessions and assets that are accumulated by a couple once they are married. Community property can include the family home, vacation houses, each spouse’s income, joint bank accounts, retirement pensions, cars, stocks, and more. It also includes all the debt that a couple accumulates. This kind of property is subject to fair division in a divorce and must be split according to the state’s community property rules.
Separate property involves any kind of asset that is owned by just one spouse that is not presumed to be community property, therefore making it legally separate from their marital estate. California’s community property laws do not apply to a spouse’s separate property, which means it cannot be distributed in a divorce unless the court finds extenuating circumstances. Separate property can include any assets that one partner owned prior to their marriage as well as any income or property that was collected once both partners officially separated. Inheritances and gifts are also classified as separate property, even if they are received by one spouse during their marriage.
Trying to split an entire marital estate down the middle is impossible, which is why property division can often be a long, grueling step in your separation. Because conflicts regarding the division of property are common, there are a handful of issues that you should be prepared to come across during the process. Common problems that arise within the property distribution step of a divorce include the following:
Like other assets, the family home must be divided fairly when a married couple divorces. To do so, the separating couple can choose from a few different legal routes. These include:
If one spouse has the financial means, they can buy out their partner’s share of the family home. This allows for fair distribution, as one spouse would receive what they are rightfully owed for their share and the other would receive the home.
In many cases, neither spouse can afford to buy out the other or pay for the family home on their own. When this happens, the court may decide that it is ideal for the separating couple to sell the home and divide the profits. This way, both spouses can receive their liquidated share of their home and put it towards their transition.
Sometimes the court may allow one spouse to stay in the family home before they are required to sell it. This is known as a “deferred sale” and most often occurs when children are involved in a divorce. The sale of the home can be delayed for a variety of reasons and can depend on the age of the child, the impact the divorce had on them, the financial stability of the parent, and more.
The belongings, assets, and wealth that you collect during a relationship are valuable in more ways than one. When it comes time to divide property in a California divorce or legal separation, seeking the help of an experienced asset division attorney can aid you immensely. A family law firm like TDC Family Law can not only help educate you on your rights in a California divorce, but we can also work to make sure you receive the property that is rightfully yours.
To learn more about your rights and options during the property division process of a divorce in California, contact TDC Family Law to schedule a consultation and talk to a professional today.
1530 The Alameda, Suite 108
San Jose, CA 95126
TDC Family Law serves the entire state of California for Contempt of Court and Private Settlement Judge & Mediation
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