Understanding the basics of property and debt division

Most of our readers probably know that California state law addresses the property and debt division part of a divorce case a bit differently from the majority of other states. In many other states, the term “equitable division” is the name of the game when it comes to dividing property and debt in a divorce case—this principle is based on trying to find a division that is “fair.” That, of course, is quite subjective. California and a handful of other states rely upon the principle of “community” property.

Community property is a basis for division that, in many cases, calls for a straightforward “50/50” split of assets and debts—if those assets and debts are part of the marital property. Any property or debts that are owned individually by one spouse or the other may not be included in what is split.

Approval of the court

In some divorce cases in California, divorcing spouses might agree on how to split things up. Sometimes, it can be rather obvious which spouse should take on which financial obligations, or who should get which assets. However, even if the spouses agree, that agreement needs to be approved by the court.

And, in other cases, divorcing spouses may not agree on anything at all, let alone property and debt division. In those cases, it may come down to the order of the court—and court orders can be extremely difficult to change once they are entered. Our readers in California should be aware of exactly what they are getting into if they think that property and debt division is going to be a dispute in a divorce case.