California is a community property state, which means that you and your spouse will be expected to divide your marital property 50-50. Community property may include things like your automobiles, your home, clothing, furniture, pension plans, patents and more, which is why it’s so important to know your legal rights and to take action to protect any separate property you have.
In California, you will face a presumption that all property you own at the time of your marriage is community property. It is up to you to prove that certain pieces of property are separate property. Separate property may include anything you acquired before marriage, gifts, inheritances or items that you have listed in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement as separate.
Should we expect to divide debts equally, too?
Interestingly, debts are not treated the same as assets in California. Debts are instead divided equitably, though fairness is something that the court will consider. For example, if your spouse goes out and spends $50,000 that you don’t know about and has debt that you were never aware of, the court may rule that you don’t have an obligation to repay it. However, if you and your spouse took out debt on a credit card together, then they may be obligated to repay half or another equitable portion.
Fairness in divorce isn’t always being equal
California’s laws are set up to make a divorce as fair as possible. It assumes that assets should be divided equally between the spouses, and debts should be allocated based on what is fair based on each person’s circumstances and the role they played in taking out those debts. The goal is to make a divorce easier by giving both spouses a fair number of assets while realizing that there are times when one person may owe more in debt than another and that saddling someone with the other person’s debts may not be fair.
What is a fair divorce? It will vary in every case, but these arrangements try to keep divorces as fair as possible regardless of who you are and what you possess.