07 May Divorce and property division in California-Part I
Divorce is very complicated at times. Not only does it involve negative emotions, such as anger, desperation, hurt and frustration, but there are also financial issues, such as payment of child support and alimony and property division.
Property division becomes very important if one of the spouses has accrued a lot of assets. It is important to understand what is considered debt and what is considered property. Property is any asset that has value and can be bought and sold on the market. That may mean a car, a house, furniture and clothes. Cash, bank funds, security deposits, 401(k) plans, pension plans, a business, stocks and patents are all assets that have a significant value.
When a couple goes through a divorce, the court decides how their property will be divided. Even if there has been informal property division, the court will still make a formal order regarding property division. However, that does not mean that the spouses need to be present before a judge to decide on those issues. Often, spouses divide the property on their own. Even in the event of debt, a spouse may go for informal debt division, although that will also need to be approved by a judge.
Because California is a community property state, marriage bestows the status of a legal community on the couple. Hence, any assets or property that spouses have acquired together as a couple are considered community property. The same thing goes for debt and any earnings that the couple have from when they were married.
This type of situation can be very complicated, as mentioned before. However, we will continue to discuss elements of property division in a later post.
Source: California Courts, “Property and Debt in a Divorce or Legal Separation,” Accessed on May 2, 2015