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Divorce and the kinds of property division in California

Los Angeles couples who are in the process of ending a marriage will have numerous issues that must be settled. One that is frequently a cause for dispute is how property will be split. Knowing the difference between marital property and non-marital property is one of the most important factors in the satisfactory resolution of a case. This is true whether there are substantial assets worth a great deal or merely items with high sentimental value. Understanding the law regarding property and how it is divided is imperative.

There are two separate types of property in a marriage: community and separate. Community property is property obtained during the marriage and was accrued through skill or labor. Spouses might not know that there could be a right to part of the other spouse's pension. It is possible that a business could be shared even if it was run by the other spouse. In California, each spouse owns half of the community property. If there were debts accumulated during the marriage, these will also be community property. A notable exception is student debt. That will remain separate. The spouses will divide community property equally except in cases in which there is an alternative agreement between the parties.

Separate property is that which was acquired prior to the marriage. This includes profits or rents. If there is property that a spouse acquired after the couple was separated and was purchased with separate earnings, it is separate property. An inheritance that was received before the marriage or as a gift to an individual spouse will belong to that spouse and will not have to be shared if it was not commingled with marital property. These items tend to become mixed up as the marriage moves along and it can lead to confusion and disagreements when the divorce is in progress.

When a couple decides to end a marriage, property can be the cause for acrimony when both sides want what they deem to be their fair share. Rather than get into an ongoing battle over it, negotiation can be beneficial. In some instances, however, that is not possible. No matter the situation, having legal help that is experienced in dealing with property division can be an integral part of a case and getting what each side believes is deserved.

Source: calbar.ca.gov, "What Should I Know About Divorce and Custody? -- 9. How will our property be divided?," accessed on May 8, 2017

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