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How fair is 'fair' when it comes to property division?

Marriage may be intended to be an equal partnership, but the division of labor is not often entirely fair. There can be a significant difference between a spouse who is a genuine homemaker and one who simply leeches from the other. For some California residents, making the decision to divorce a spouse who contributes nothing to the marriage may be accompanied by a desire to ensure that the other party does not benefit equally in the property division as a result.

One California woman decided that she wanted to divorce her husband after eight years of marriage. The wife alleged that, for the duration of the marriage, her husband had never been employed and never made any financial contribution to the union. The couple lived in a house that the wife had purchased prior to the marriage. It had almost doubled in value, and she still paid her mortgage. In addition, the wife had a retirement fund worth $100,000 and savings of $20,000.

In view of the husband's lack of contribution, the wife wanted to protect her investment as much as possible. In order to reduce the amount that would have to be shared with her husband as part of the community property assessment, the wife considered various methods of reducing her savings. These included measures such as increasing the level of payments to her mortgage and car loan, and giving the wife's parents cash gifts.

However unfair it feels, living in a community property state such as California means that in divorce, jointly owned assets must be divided equally between both parties. Using underhanded means in order to impact the property division can potentially result in losing even more if the judge finds that one has acted out of malice. It is far better to seek appropriate advice and guidance in order to achieve the best outcome within legal parameters.

Source: marketwatch.com, "My husband mooched off me for 8 years - should I spend my money before we divorce?", Quentin Fottrell, Aug. 22, 2016

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