When a divorce is pending, it’s normal for a flood of questions to enter your mind. Those questions will commonly involve the division of property, assets, businesses, and debts. Who gets what? How is property divided in a divorce? How are companies divided? What if there are debts? These and other concerns might strike, especially if there was no premarital agreement signed before the marriage began. It’s important to remember that every divorce is different. This means that the division of assets, properties, and debts will be carried out in different ways. However, some general rules can help a divorcing couple understand how property is divided in a divorce.
Determining Community Property vs Separate Property
In order to better understand how property is divided in a divorce, it’s important to understand the difference between community and non-community property. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may want to determine these factors and choose how you’d like your property to be divided yourselves. If you cannot reach an agreement on how to divide your property, the courts will step in to do it for you. Regardless if you can or cannot agree, there are some factors you need to consider. First, you must determine whether the property is shared or separate. Was it something that you’ve acquired together during the marriage? Or is the asset considered a separate entity from the marriage? This will determine how property is divided in a divorce.
- Community property is the total earnings acquired during the marriage and all things purchased with those earnings. In addition, all debts that were created during the marriage are also considered “community” or shared.
- Separate property includes any inheritances that specify only one spouse. Property that was purchased with separate funds that only belong to one spouse. Personal injury awards that only involve one spouse. Any businesses that were owned before the marriage will remain with that one spouse. However, if the business increased in value throughout the course of the marriage and both spouses were involved, it could be considered community property.
Date of Separation
It’s vital to know the exact date of separation when you’re trying to understand how property is divided in a divorce. This is because if there was anything that was purchased before the divorce, but after they decided to dissolve the marriage, will be considered separate property. For instance, let’s say that one spouse decides to purchase a car with their own funds before the divorce is finalized. If this purchase was made after they separated, the car will be separate property.
How Property is Divided in a Divorce
California is a community property state. A divorcing couple will first determine what is considered community property and what is considered separate property. Then, the couple or the courts will determine the value of each piece of their shared property. This is done by assigning general monetary values and having appraisals done on properties, jewelry, art, antiques, or other valuable assets. Once overall values are assigned to the communal properties, the division of property can begin. It’s important to note that this can be a highly complicated process, even when the courts have agreed to split everything down the middle. Some divorcing couples will have no problems co-sharing properties as investments. Some divorcing couples will want to sell off all properties and sever communication altogether. The bottom line is, it’s not always easy to just assign property 50/50 and move on. Normally, there are a lot of minor details to work out before property, businesses, or debts can be divided.
Divide Shared Debts
The couple must also determine how much debt was accrued throughout the course of the marriage. This could include a mortgage, car loans, or credit card debt. Many couples will forget that their debt will still follow them regardless of the divorce. Creditors don’t automatically stop trying to collect from one spouse or the other. Debt can be divided just like property is divided in a divorce. If it’s possible, it’s always recommended to pay off any shared debts after a divorce. This can help both individuals move on and avoid conflict after a divorce is finalized.
For More Information on Dividing Property in a Divorce
If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, it’s important to work closely with a divorce lawyer. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand what is considered community property and what is considered separate. They can also help you to determine the value of your assets. Knowing this information can hope you understand where you financially stand after your property is divided. It’s never recommended to go through the division of property alone. Contact a trusted divorce lawyer today to learn more about how you should move forward.Back to blog home