California Divorce Laws and Equal Division of Property
Under California divorce laws, there must be an equal division of all community property. Community property is defined as any income earned or asset acquired during the marriage (except for gifts and inheritances).
The property settlement must give each party equal division of property in value, but does not have to be split in half. One person may take the pension and the savings accounts and leave the other person with the equity in the house.
Property includes all of the following:
• Real Estate
• Savings Accounts
• Stocks & Bonds
• Retirement Benefits
• Life Insurance Cash Benefits
• All Debt
With regard to debt, most credit card companies have language in their user agreement that both spouses will be responsible for the debt, even if it is assigned to only one of them. It’s a good idea to pay off the debt with community assets or transfer credit card debt onto new cards to protect yourself in case the other party chooses not to pay for his or her portion of the debt.
California is a no fault divorce state. That means that the courts don’t give one party more of the community party on the basis of adultery, for instance. However, in rare cases, the court will assign an unequal division of the property when one party has misappropriated or hidden community assets.
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