Community property concerns and your California divorce
Since California is a community property state, you and your spouse must divide your marital property and debt equally.
Many divorcing couples dread the property division process but understanding the community property aspect and preparing in advance can lower the stress level.
How community property division works
Any assets and debts you and your spouse or partner obtained during your marriage are marital property. You will divide all this equally—or as close to equally as possible—when you divorce. However, anything you owned before you married is your separate property and yours to keep.
Make a list
The best way to prepare for property division is to make a list of everything you own. You can then identify which items are separate property and which are community property. Fair market value must be assigned to each item. You will also use the list in completing Form FL-142, the Schedule of Assets and Debts, which is part of your financial declarations of disclosure.
What to include
Property division will focus on all assets of value, such as the marital home, other real property, vehicles, boats, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, valuable collections and business ownership. Remember that you must also divide marital debt, such as credit card debt and loans.
The net share
The goal in dividing community property in California is to arrive at a net share that is roughly equal. Once you add up the value of all the marital assets and subtract the amount of marital debt, the result is the net value of the community estate. This is what you and your soon-to-be-ex will divide. While the preparation takes time, you will approach property division with less stress and greater confidence.