Property Distribution in a California Divorce

One of the most significant issues in any California divorce is the distribution of property between spouses. Typically, this issue has the largest overall impact on a spouse’s final divorce settlement, which is why it is critically important that you receive your full share of the marital estate. At The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum & Associates, our experienced California divorce attorneys are here to provide zealous advocacy in your case. To learn more about the wide range of legal services offered to our clients navigating a divorce, call or contact us today.

California is a Community Property State

Depending on the state where the divorce takes place, property is either divided through equitable distribution or as community property. In equitable distribution states, the marital property is divided equitably, but not necessarily equally between spouses depending on the specific facts of the case. California is a community property state, which means that all property identified as either marital or commingled is split equally, 50/50, between spouses in a divorce.

Identifying Separate, Marital, and Commingled Property

The most critical issue in dividing property is determining what is separate, marital, and commingled property. Separate property is all real estate and personal property items that each spouse brought with them into the marriage. Separate property goes back to each spouse in a divorce. Marital property refers to all assets acquired during the course of the marriage. This can include real estate, personal property, securities, pension plans, and any other assets or debts accrued during the marriage. The only exceptions to marital property are gifts or inheritance specifically for one spouse.

Commingled property is anything that started as separate property but became mixed together with marital assets during the course of the marriage. The most common example of commingled property is a home owned by one spouse prior to the marriage that is used as the marital home after the wedding. If marital funds paid for the mortgage, upkeep, and renovations the real estate converts from separate property to commingled property in a divorce. The identification of commingled property can sometimes make a substantial difference in the distribution of property between spouses.

How Property is Divided

There are three main ways that community property is distributed between spouses in a California divorce once all property has been identified, valued, and categorized. Spouses can divide assets by assigning certain items to each spouse, allowing one spouse to “buy out” the other’s share in certain items, like a car or home, or by selling the assets and splitting the profits between the couple. In certain situations, like with real estate or a family pet, the couple may choose to retain joint ownership over certain items even after the divorce is finalized.

Call or Contact Our Office

If you would like to speak with an experienced California divorce attorney about your case, call or contact The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates today to schedule a consultation of your case.