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Dividing assets from a long marriage takes an emotional toll

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July 8, 2020

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Dividing assets from a long marriage takes an emotional toll

You met when you were both attending UC San Diego, married in the 1980s and started your respective careers in engineering and medicine.

Now you have made the emotional decision to go your separate ways. Throughout decades of hard work, you accumulated significant assets. So, how will you divide all this in a California divorce?

Property division and the court

When it comes to divorce, California is a no-fault state. This means that you do not have to give a reason for wanting a divorce. And since the reason for your divorce does not matter, it will have no effect on the property division aspect. Because California is also a community property state, the judge will focus on dividing both your marital assets and your marital debts equally.

What property division includes

There are many types of property you may have to divide in your divorce.

  • Marital home
  • Vacation property
  • Vehicles and boats
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Family business
  • Intellectual property
  • Pets

You are no doubt emotionally attached to some of these items and you will not come away with all of them. However, if you have a particular attachment—to the family dog, for example—let your divorce attorney know how important it is for you to retain ownership.

The division of debt

Remember that property division also includes all the marital debt that you and your soon-to-be-ex owe, which includes credit card accounts and personal loans. Sometimes debt is useful in balancing out a particular asset. For example, if you retain ownership of the marital home, in which there is more equity than the vacation condo your spouse gets, you might also take on all the credit card debt to balance out the division.

A look at the next chapter

If you dread the upcoming property division phase of your California divorce, try looking at the process as a business transaction. You are about to start a new chapter in your life, and it begins by balancing the emotional with the practical as you keep or give up the various items on your list of assets and debts.

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