The divorce process can be somewhat tedious. It is difficult to terminate a marriage and start a new life separate from your spouse. While there are many topics to negotiate in the final divorce settlement, property division may be one of the most overwhelming. For many people, separating all of the property and assets accumulated throughout years of marriage is daunting. Yet, when done properly, people can ensure they receive everything they are entitled to in the divorce settlement.

California is one of the few states in the nation that uses the community property model of property and asset distribution. This means that all marital property is divided equally in half between spouses. Both parties must disclose all marital property in their possession so it can be distributed properly.

While people naturally think of the family car, home and furniture as marital assets to divide in the settlement, there are some other items that may be overlooked. These include the following:

  • Intellectual property, such as copyrights, patents and trademarks
  • Income tax refunds and lottery ticket winnings
  • Term life insurance policies, 401k plans, stocks and retirement accounts
  • Expensive collections, such as coins, classic cars, antiques and art
  • Memberships to exclusive golf courses and country clubs
  • Gifts spouses gave to one another during the marriage

In addition to these items, any money and/or property loaned out to a third party during the marriage should be split once it is repaid. This holds true even if it is repaid after the divorce is finalized. It is important to keep any separate property away from joint-bank accounts, as it can become marital property as well.