In theory, property division law in California is extremely straightforward, but it can be very complex in application. California courts divide everything in half without considering fault or who earned more money during the marriage. Simply stated, anything acquired during the marriage using earnings salary/wages actively earned during the marriage is community property. Gifts and inheritances are the recipient's separate property and are not divided between the parties. Ultimately, California law provides for each party to receive assets/debts with a cumulative value equal to the value of the assets/debts the other party receives. While that is what a judge would order at trial, the parties are welcome to agree to an unequal division if that is their preference or better serves their needs.
Division of Property Variations
Although there is an equal division rule of thumb, there are also scores of ways to divide the pie. There are many considerations and many opportunities for creative solutions. Both parties should consider what they really need and want, such as the house to live in now versus retirement funds for the future. Additional considerations include thinking about which assets are most likely to increase in value in the future, how to provide for the children's needs and education costs, which assets or debts provide a tax savings to one of the parties, etc.
Efficient Legal Services
In short, anyone getting involved in a divorce should discuss his or her property concerns with an attorney prior to formulating a plan of action. This firm welcomes clients who can amicably resolve the property issues in their case. We encourage them to come to their first appointment with a proposal. We work hard to quickly document the settlement without letting the deal fall apart due to passage of time or changing emotions. Many property issues can be mediated for minimal cost, resulting in both parties avoiding unnecessary legal fees.