property division

How Does Property Division Work When Getting a Divorce in California?

Divorce can be an emotional and challenging experience. It can be even more complicated when dividing assets and property. Property division can vary from state to state, and California is no exception. This blog post will explore the basics of property division in California divorce cases, including what constitutes marital and separate property, community property, and how complex property division can be in California law cases. 


The Basics of Property Division in California Divorce Cases


In California, property division in divorce follows the principle of community property, which is where all assets and debts accrued during the marriage are equally owned by both spouses. This means it’s a 50-50 split. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Gifts or inheritances given specifically to one spouse or property owned before the marriage or after separation are not included in the split and are considered separate property. 


Defining Marital and Separate Property


When distinguishing between marital and separate property, it’s important to know some key differences. Marital, or community, property is typically everything that you and your spouse acquired or earned during the marriage. This can range from everything from the house you bought together, the income you both earned, to the debts accumulated during this period. On the other hand, separate property includes any assets or debts that one spouse acquired before the marriage, during the marriage as a gift or inheritance specifically to them, or after separation. Furthermore, any property that the spouse declares to be separate property is also considered as such. So, the key differences are the timing and the specific circumstances under which the property was acquired.


What is Community Property, and How Does it Get Split in a Divorce Case?


As mentioned earlier, community property comprises all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. This includes income, assets purchased by either spouse during the marriage, stock options, retirement accounts, and real estate purchased during the marriage. In most cases, community property is divided equally between the spouses, but the court will also consider factors such as each spouse’s earning capacity, their contribution to property acquisition, and their financial needs. 


How Complex Can Divorce Property Division Be in California Law Cases


The complexity of property division in California can depend on the nature of the assets involved. Valuing and dividing real estate, business interests, investments, and retirement accounts can be complex and require the assistance of financial experts. In some cases, the court may order the sale of assets to divide the value of community property equally. 


Strategies to Help Make the Process Easier


Divorce and property division can be stressful and emotionally draining. Here are some strategies to help make the process easier: 


  • Hire an experienced attorney who specializes in divorce cases and is knowledgeable about California’s property division laws.
  • Gather and organize all financial documents and records, including tax returns, bank statements, and investment account summaries.
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative divorce, which can help avoid going to court and reduce costs.
  • Be willing to negotiate and compromise with your spouse. Divorce is never easy, but it helps to be open-minded and willing to work towards a mutually beneficial agreement.


Divorce and property division can be complex and emotionally draining. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we have experienced divorce attorneys specializing in California’s property division. Our team is knowledgeable about California family law and will help ensure a fair distribution of assets. We also offer various dispute resolution methods, making the process as stress-free as possible for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a private appointment. 

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