In California, there are some basic rules that concern the division of property and debts. Essentially, California is regarded as the community property state. Rightfully so, there are numerous unique laws on how property and debt divisions are to be carried out in the midst of divorce proceedings. It is generally the task of the couple to properly divide properties and debts equally after a physical separation date. Still, the process of actually completing these tasks can be difficult, especially if both parties come to multiple disagreements.

In this article, our division of assets attorneys will discuss the basics of property and debt in a California divorce and the state’s laws on the types of properties and the distribution of these properties.

There are Two Types of Properties

 When a couple decides to head to divorce, there is a requirement for their properties to be effectively and fairly distributed. In the broadest sense, a divorce signals a separation. Similar to an event where two roommates decide to move out of an apartment, the former married couple will have to determine what’s theirs to take under the laws of California. Under this concept, there are two types of properties that are accumulated during a marriage. The joint assets of two individuals that are married are referred to as community property.

This property is basically any assets the couple has obtained during their marriage. Community property can be in the form of real estate, jewelry, vehicles, furniture, technology, and even pets. California established community property as the joint property of both parties. Therefore, during divorce proceedings, the couple will have to identify and agree on which property falls into this category. If not, the court will make this decision based on the provided evidence of such.

The second form of property is separate property. To put it simply, separate property is any asset that belongs specifically to that individual. Inheritance and any items obtained after the date of separation is legally entitled to the owner of that asset. While there can be some disputes on the legitimacy of separate property assets, you can prove that you are the sole owner of an asset by providing evidence to the court.

Debts Work the Same Way

 Similar to how properties can be acquired and labeled as “community” or “separate,” debts can receive the same designation. Community debt is referred to as the debt accumulated during the marriage. For example, if one spouse uses a credit card to make certain purchases, both spouses are responsible for paying back those charges, even if the credit card was held in that spouse’s name alone. The reason why this is the case is that California, and other states, consider a marriage to be a single union. Therefore, any debts accumulated in a marriage, regardless of how accumulates these debts, will be equally given to both spouses. This is also the case in spousal income tax obligations as well if this has occurred during the marriage.

Conversely, separate debts are generally accumulated by one spouse after the date of separation. For instance, if both spouses are living separates and one spouse charges an item to their credit card, the other spouse will not be entitled to equal pay this debt.

For more information, speak to our division of assets lawyers today.