What happens to everything you own when you divorce? It depends on which state you live in. California is a community property state. Most things you acquired while married belong to both of you, and you need to split them in a divorce.
Specific things count as separate property, and you do not need to divide these. They include:
- Property you owned before you married
- Property you inherited
- Property you alone received as a gift while married
- Property you protected via a pre or postnuptial agreement
- Money from a personal injury claim
You need to divide your community property equally, which means 50/50, unless you and your spouse can reach a different agreement. Dividing the contents of your bank account in half is simple. Yet, how do you split a motorcycle in half? You could sell it and split the money, but your spouse might prefer to keep the bike.
Seek legal help to negotiate with your spouse over who keeps what. Once you add up the value of all your assets, you can find a way to share them between you that works for both of you.
California treats debts differently to assets when dividing property in your divorce
California uses the principle of equitable distribution for debts. That means you must divide your debts fairly. So you could argue that the outstanding loan on your wife’s motorcycle is hers alone if she was the only person that rode it.
The more assets or debts you have, the more complex it will be to divide them when you divorce. While the law puts down the framework for property division, there is scope to negotiate the settlement you need, or, if that fails to litigate for it.