Knowing you want to divorce and actually separating from your spouse are very different. It takes a lot of consideration and planning to arrange a separation and dissolution of your marriage, but reaching the realization that you’re unhappy can take just a moment of insight. Protecting yourself during divorce requires an understanding of the process and your rights as someone living in California.
If you don’t already have a marital agreement dictating how you should divide assets, the prospect of financial uncertainty could contribute to procrastination about filing. The more you understand the California approach to property division, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about your divorce.
California uses community property rules
In California, when two people marry, they form a new family or community. Unless they have a marital agreement in place, any items they buy, wages they earn and debt they accumulate will belong to both of them. The couple will need to divide that joint or community property when they end their marriage.
The person who earns the money or has their name on an account isn’t the only one with an ownership interest in that property under California law. Both spouses have a right to shared assets, savings and even pensions or retirement benefits held by one spouse.
When you divorce, the judge presiding over your case will need to look at the best way to divide all of your shared or community property. An even split is often considered the ideal for a community property asset division outcome, but certain marital considerations can influence how a family law judge rules about splitting a couple’s property.
Surrendering control to a judge isn’t your only option
Waiting for a family law judge to decide who keeps your house isn’t the only approach. You and your ex also have the option of working together to negotiate a settlement. Your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can dictate the terms of property division. You could also go through mediation to resolve your disagreements about splitting your assets.
Identifying what property is community property and which assets are the most important to you are crucial early steps for those divorcing in California.