California residents who go through a divorce understand that their assets will look different once they separate from their spouse. But you might not know about the state laws that will impact your settlement.
Specifically, family courts in San Diego and everywhere else in the state will follow community property rules. Through the community property division system, you will be able to receive 50% or an equal division of the property you owned both individually and separately through the duration of your marriage. This typically includes things like the family home, your vehicles, bank accounts and retirement benefits.
What about separate property?
Although state law says a bank account that’s only in your name is just as much yours as it is your spouse’s, there are some assets you might be able to keep completely to yourself. Legally, and quite fittingly, the court labels these assets separate property. Separate property includes items you owned or cash you had prior to your marriage. During your marriage you can also acquire separate property via gifts and inheritances.
It’s important to note that you can’t mix any assets you believe to be separate property with community property for you to claim them as 100% yours during the divorce process. So, maybe you have a savings account you opened and contributed to prior to your wedding date. You’ll probably only be able to keep everything in that account if you haven’t added to it during your marriage, aside from inheritance checks or other money gifts given only to you.
What about debts we share?
Debts you’ve built up through marriage will be divvyed in court too. However, unlike other property that is equally split, a judge will split up your joint debts in a way they believe is fair.
To prepare for your divorce, you can gather proof you may have of the separate property you own and compile a list of all shared assets and debts that come to mind. From there, a legal expert can help you create a more comprehensive list and seek a fair settlement.