Is Property Division Always 50/50 in a California Divorce?

California is one of only nine US states that enforces a community property law for divorce. While, at first glance, this law may appear to seek the fairest possible division of marital assets in a divorce, many find it rigid and even unfair in light of some unique circumstances in their divorces. Many people assume that property division is always 50/50 in a California divorce due to the community property law, but this isn’t necessarily true. While it is true that divorcing spouses must evenly divide their marital property in divorce, some property is exempt from division. It is also possible for divorcing spouses to resolve property division in several ways.

Ultimately, any divorce in California is likely to raise complex financial questions that divorcing spouses cannot resolve on their own. When it comes to the state’s community property law, many divorcing spouses enter their dissolution proceedings with misconceptions about what qualifies for division in divorce and what does not. One of the best things you can do to prepare for divorce proceedings, no matter what your case entails, is to speak with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Preparing for Property Division in California

Any divorce in California requires the spouses to submit respective financial disclosure statements. These are packets of financial records that will clearly outline each spouse’s separate property as well as the marital property owned by both spouses. Before anything is divided, the court will need to review the couple’s financial records, verifying that both parties have submitted complete and accurate records and addressing any discrepancies.

This financial disclosure process must be taken seriously, and any attempts to subvert property division in divorce for personal gain are likely to lead to severe penalties. Contempt of court and criminal charges are possible depending on the scope and nature of a divorcing spouse’s dishonesty in divorce. Even honest mistakes in financial disclosure can lead to delays and other problems, so it is always best to have an attorney’s help with your financial disclosure statement in a California divorce.

Once a divorce petition is filed with the local court, a divorce case can go through many possible ways. If both couples are agreeable to the idea of privately negotiating their divorce terms, alternative dispute resolution could enable them to save time and money in the divorce process. While they may not be able to resolve all of the issues their divorce entails privately, they can still significantly streamline the dissolution process by taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution.

Negotiating Property Division in Divorce

It’s important to remember that while alternative dispute resolution can provide a divorcing couple with more control over the outcome of property division in their divorce, their resolution must still align with the state’s community property law. However, while a judge may compel them to liquidate some assets and divide the proceedings, the spouses can negotiate alternative terms that can spare them the need to liquidate assets and face other issues common in more rigid property division determinations.

Alternative dispute resolution can potentially provide the means of more easily resolving many, but not all, of your divorce-related issues. For example, while you and your spouse could mediate a mutually agreeable set of terms, a family court judge must review and approve your divorce order. In addition, if you and your spouse have children together, child custody must also be resolved by a judge. Ultimately, alternative dispute resolution may not help you avoid litigation entirely, but it can significantly streamline your dissolution proceedings while enabling more agreeable results.

Other Common Financial Disputes in California Divorces

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage contract, but it is also the formal process of assigning individual ownership rights and financial obligations to the divorcing spouses. This is very difficult in some divorces, such as those involving high net worth spouses or spouses with premarital contracts, family court orders from previous marriages, and those who have experienced domestic violence.

Property division is only one financial aspect of your divorce you must address. You and your spouse must also be prepared to resolve potential long-term financial arrangements between the two of you. For example, if one of you earned far more income than the other, or if one of you was financially dependent on the other for most of your marriage, spousal support is likely to be an element of your final divorce order. This is money paid to a lower-earning spouse to help them adjust to life after divorce.

When parents divorce, child custody is likely to be the central issue in their divorce proceedings. The judge presiding over your divorce proceedings will likely seek to resolve child custody and child support before anything else. While the judge may want to determine who will remain in the family home, the court has a legal duty to always rule in favor of whatever best suits a child’s needs and interests. Therefore, the judge will determine appropriate child support terms after resolving custody of the child. Once the child’s needs are fully addressed, the judge will take the custody and child support determination into account as they resolve the other financial matters in the divorce.

Find Legal Counsel Today

Time is a crucial concern for anyone facing impending divorce proceedings. The sooner you secure legal counsel from an attorney you can trust, the more time they will have to address the various details of your case as effectively as possible. Whether you are responding to your spouse’s divorce petition or preparing to file one yourself, an experienced divorce attorney is the best asset to have on your side as you approach dissolution proceedings.

McCunn Law has years of professional experience representing clients in a wide range of family court cases in California, including those with hotly contested property divisions. Whether you need assistance preparing your financial disclosure statement, have concerns about long-term financial obligations to your ex, or want to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution with an experienced attorney, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a California divorce attorney you can trust to guide you through your property division proceedings as efficiently as possible.