Kevin Qualls Family Law
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How is property divided in California when a couple divorces?

Couples in California who decide to end their marriage can often work out many legal issues between themselves through out-of-court negotiations. One of these legal issues is property division. However, in California, even if a couple has already agreed on how to separate their property, until the final divorce decree is issued, any community property owned by the couple still belongs to both of them, and legally will not be considered separate.

When dividing property in a divorce, it is often good to do so in a way that allows each party to walk away with about an equal amount of the property. Of course, this doesn't mean everything has to be split equally down the middle. For example, if a couple has two bank accounts, instead of each of them splitting the money in each account, they can each take over one account if the value of the accounts is relatively the same. Or, if one account is much more valuable than the other, one party can keep the bank account, while the other party can be awarded some other property of equal value.

In addition, debts will need to be divided and sometimes can be used in a way to balance out the division of property. In the end, what is often best is that each party ends up with assets that have a relatively equal "net" share.

Couples seeking a divorce will each have to complete a "Schedule of Assets and Debts," in which each spouse lists what property they believe is separate, what property they believe belongs to both of them and how much the property is worth. This can help the couple get an idea of all the assets they will need to account for in the property division process, as well as see if there is a big difference in what they feel their property is worth.

In the end, this is only a very brief overview of property division in California. While the process may seem relatively simple, it can actually be quite complex. Therefore, it can help to have an attorney represent you during the property division process to ensure the end result is fair and appropriate.

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