While you may face a number of difficult challenges when going through the divorce process, dividing marital property may be one of the most emotional. It is often hard for people to negotiate property division with items they have grown attached to over the years.
California follows a community property model of property division, meaning all marital property is divided equally in half between spouses. It is helpful to understand how the property division process works, to minimize unnecessary loss and to help receive all property you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.
What is community property?
All property and assets accumulated during your marriage are known as community property, according to the California Courts. This includes items that you have purchased as a couple, such as the family home, vehicles and furniture. There are other less common items and assets that you should not overlook when dividing property. These include the following:
- Term life insurance policies, retirement accounts, 401k plans and stocks
- Memberships to exclusive golf courses and country clubs
- Intellectual property, such as copyrights, patents and trademarks
- Income tax returns and lottery ticket winnings
- Travel rewards points or frequent flier miles
- Collections, such as coins, cars, art, antiques and wine
It is important to consider everything so you receive everything you deserve in the final divorce settlement. The California Courts also divided debt equally in half during the divorce as well.
Is everything community property?
Not all property is community property, and therefore is not eligible for division in the divorce settlement. The property you owned prior to getting married is separate and may remain with you even after the divorce is finalized. This includes inheritance money and gifts given to you before, during and after your marriage. Furthermore, any money you make after the date of separation is yours to keep. It is important to keep track of these dates to avoid losing those earnings or obtaining more debt.
Although dividing community property is a challenge, you can prepare yourself by getting informed and ready to tackle any issue that comes your way.