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How is property divided in the event of a divorce in California?

A divorce, no matter where it occurs, can tug on heart and purse strings. Many aspects of a divorce require careful analysis for a fair settlement, such as alimony payment, property division and child support payments.

How does California divide property in the event of a divorce? California law acknowledges that both spouses make significant contributions to a marriage. Property owned by a couple is either labeled separate or communal. Community property is considered an asset that either spouse acquired during the course of their marital life. Very often, a couple may have more community property than they realize. For instance, interest earned on pension and other stock options are examples of community property that would be divided in the event of a divorce. Even a property owned by one spouse may also be treated as community property.

Debts incurred by either spouse during the course of the marriage are also regarded as community property -- meaning that credit card bills are the responsibility of both spouses, even though credit was issued in one spouse's name. If one spouse fails to pay a credit debit, the other spouse is responsible. All these issues of property division after divorce make it a complicated affair which requires someone who has legal knowledge about the divorce process.

In California, the concept of separate property means that a property or asset was acquired by a spouse before the person was married. It could be rent from a house purchased before marriage or a settlement from a previous divorce. A gift given exclusively to one individual is separate property and cannot be divided during property division proceedings. Often spouses may find it difficult to identify separate property, especially when it is mixed with community property. After the divorce is final, all non-marital property reverts to the original owner.

Source: State Bar of California, "What Should I Know About Divorce And Custody?," Accessed on Apr. 19, 2015

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