Couples going through a California divorce may hear that California is a “50/50” divorce state. The term “50/50” is usually made in reference to two major areas of a divorce—Property division and child custody. Therefore, if you are involved in a case, you may be wondering, is it always 50/50 in a California divorce?
California Community Property
Property division is one of the main issues a couple will have to resolve during a California divorce. California is a community property state. This means that outside of certain limited exceptions, the assets and income acquired during marriage equally belong to each partner. The same goes for any debts the two incurred.
Are California Assets Always Divided 50/50 During Divorce?
In a California divorce, community assets and debts can be equally divided between the parties. However, there can be circumstances that provide for a division other than 50/50. For instance, property and debts may be divided differently when the couple has entered into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that provides for a different distribution. The parties can also agree to divide their property and liabilities in a manner than gives one person more than the other. There may also be circumstances when one spouse has misused community assets, such as paying for a vacation they took with their affair partner. In that case, the court may decide to order the unfaithful partner to pay their spouse back their community share of the expended funds. Further, if a spouse hides assets during the divorce, the court may find that the injured party should be awarded the undisclosed property.
California Child Custody
Child custody can be another significant issue during a California divorce. There are two kinds of custody—legal and physical. Legal custody refers to a parent’s authority to make decisions regarding their child’s education, care, and well-being. Physical custody concerns a parent’s right to have their child with them and in their care.
California courts are charged with making decisions that are in the child’s best interest. To make these choices, the court will examine numerous best-interest factors to decide the most suitable custodial arrangement for a child. Generally, when both parents are safe, California law favors parents having joint (shared) legal and physical custody.
Does Joint Custody Mean 50/50 in California?
Sharing custody does not necessarily mean parents have 50/50 decision-making authority or scheduled time with their children. In some circumstances, it may be more reasonable for one parent to have more authority. For instance, if a child lives in a different city with one parent during the school year, it may be best for the school-year parent to have the primary authority to make educational decisions. Likewise, it may not be feasible for kids who are in school to split their weeks equally between parental homes. Instead, children in that situation may benefit from spending time with their parents according to a 60/40 schedule or every other week.
Every California divorce is as unique as those the case involves. Some cases may involve a 50/50 division of the assets and equal custodial rights, while others may not. The best way to evaluate 50/50 and other important important important issues is by working with an experienced California divorce attorney. You and your divorce lawyer can examine the facts, identify your possible outcomes, and develop a strategy for your case.
Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you during all phases of your divorce or custody matter. Our firm assists clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.