Getting divorced isn’t what most people would call “fun.” In the best-case scenario, you and your ex reach an agreement on division of assets. But you’ll still need to do paperwork and get a judge’s approval in this ideal scenario.
Usually, the process is a bit more complicated. A divorce can be emotionally draining, to say the least. Whether you disagree about child support or splitting up property, reaching a compromise takes a lot of time and energy.
Here at Bansmer Law, we work closely with women and men throughout the entire divorce process. We’ve seen a thing or two when it comes to difficult divorces in San Joaquin County CA.
That’s why we put together this guide to solving problems dividing real estate in divorce in California.
Between adhering to state law and collaborating with your ex, solving these issues alone often feels overwhelming. But you’ll know exactly what your next steps should be by the time you’re done reading.
How is Real Estate Divided in a Divorce in California?
In a divorce in California, most real estate is automatically divided 50/50 between you and your ex.
But there’s a lot more to it than that. Details like your date of separation and living in another state for part of your marriage can have a huge impact on how you divide real estate. There are 3 categories this property may fall into during your divorce:
- Separate property: Any property bought by you/your spouse before your marriage or after your separation date, or received as a gift/inheritance during your marriage.
- Community property: Any property bought during the marriage with money earned during the marriage, even if it’s not in both of your names.
- Quasi-community property: Any real estate purchased outside of California that would’ve otherwise counted as community property.
Separate property will remain yours throughout the divorce. Quasi-community property is treated as community property. The state will automatically divide this real estate 50/50. But you and your spouse can also create your own terms.
To do that, you first need a clear understanding of community property. This knowledge makes it much easier to work through problems dividing real estate in your divorce.
What is Community Property in California Divorce?
California observes community property laws, meaning most property acquired by you or your spouse during your marriage is equally owned by both of you. CA Family Code Section 2550 states that this property must be equally divided when you separate.
In a nutshell, the court will order a 50/50 division of this property unless you and your ex come up with a different agreement.
And this can be a huge point of contention for many couples going through a divorce. Especially if you bought the property with money earned from your career, for example, you might feel entitled to full ownership.
But you have other options besides giving half to your ex or sacrificing ownership of another property to keep a specific one. You and your spouse have the option of “buying out” the other party from any community property.
A buyout involves either one spouse paying for the other’s share of that asset. Or you can agree to sell any asset(s) and divide the proceeds. A judge will make the final determination if you can’t reach an agreement.
Why Your Date of Separation is Important in a CA Divorce
In California, your date of separation has a huge impact on dividing real estate. As we mentioned earlier, most property procured by either of you during the marriage is considered community property.
But anything acquired after your date of separation 100% belongs to whichever of you bought it.
It’s also important to know the criteria for being separated under CA law:
- You’re physically separated. If you’re still living with your spouse, you aren’t considered separated. Any property either of you buy while living under the same roof will be considered community property.
- You separated because you intend on getting divorced. It’s not enough to be living apart. You must also prove the reason for separation is an impending divorce. If you and your spouse are undergoing a trial separation, odds are any real estate you acquire will be considered community property.
Who Pays the Mortgage During Divorce in California?
During divorce in California, both you and your spouse are responsible for paying the mortgage—even if one of you no longer lives in the house.
This is true for most cases. Did you take out the mortgage for the house while married? Under CA state law, that’s community property. You’re both responsible for the mortgage until a judge finalizes your divorce agreement and division of real estate.
It’s likely that one of you has moved out of the home as part of your separation. Even in this scenario, you’re both equally responsible for paying the mortgage.
A CA Divorce Lawyer Can Help Simplify This Messy Process
Now you have an idea of how to work through problems dividing real estate in divorce in California. There are certain laws your division of property must adhere to. And if your ex is being obstinate right now, a judge can hear both sides to make these determinations.
If you’re thinking that still sounds like a messy and exhausting process to handle alone, you aren’t wrong. A recent study found that men and women going through a divorce experience worsened mental and physical health.
But working with a skilled and focused California divorce lawyer can make all the difference.
With an expert in your corner, you can sleep at night knowing your best interests are protected. From proving your separation date to fighting for what’s rightfully yours, we pride ourselves on offering aggressive and dependable legal representation.
Throughout the entire process, we’ll make sure your rights are respected too. You won’t have to worry about getting the short end of the stick. We’ve helped men and women successfully navigate divorce and division of real estate for over 10 years.
And we’re open 24 hours so you can call us anytime. Just contact us now at (209) 474-2400 to learn more about how we can help simplify your divorce.