CaliforniaPost Divorce Property Division
California Property Division Guide :: Table of Contents
What is property division in a California divorce?
Also known as equitable distribution, property division is the process of dividing property rights and obligations between spouses during the process of a divorce. Property division may be agreed upon between the soupses through a property settlement, or it may be decided in court during the judicial process of divorce. The process of property division is affected by state laws such as community property laws, definitions of marital contributions, etc.
California is a community property state, and only property acquired during the course of the marriage is subject to division following divorce. Some factors considered by California courts in a property division case include contributions to a partner's education and economic misconduct. This page summarizes the most important aspects of property division laws in California.
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California divides marital assets under community property law, which means that property and assets acquired during a marriage are jointly owned by both spouses, regardless of who purchased it or whose name is on the title. In most cases, community property will be divided 50/50 between the spouses. Other factors may be taken into account by the judge when determining the fair division of certain assets.
In California, marital property, or property acquired during the marriage, is distributed equally (50-50) to each party unless the court finds such a division to be inequitable or parties agree to a different formula under which to divide property.
Non marital property, or property acquired prior to the marriage or property acquired by one spouse during the marriage not included in the marital estate will be returned to the party who owned it prior to the marriage.
California Property Division FAQ
- Is California a community property state?
- Does state of California only divide marital property after a divorce?
- Is there a set list of statutory factors for determining property division in the state of California?
- Do courts in the state of California consider nonmonetary contributions?
- Does California consider a spouse's economic misconduct in property division?
- Are contributions to education considered in the state of California?
- Can a pre-nuptual agreement affect property division in California?
- How can I enforce a property division order in California?
- Dower and Curtesy in California?
Is California a community property state?
California is a community property state, which means that virtually all assets and debt acquired during the duration of a marriage are considered marital property, and are thus divided equally between the spouses in the event of a divorce. Examples of assets generally considered community property under California law include:
- Wages and income earned by either spouse during the marriage
- Investment income earned during the marriage
- Houses, furniture, cars, etc purchased during the marriage
- Debt acquired during the marriage (like a mortgage, car loan, etc)
Does state of California only divide marital property after a divorce?
In the state of California, only property or assets considered "marital property" or "community property" are subject to division in a divorce case. This means that property owned by either spouse prior to marriage is exempt, as are certain individually-owned assets acquired during the tenure of the marriage.
Some individual property may be considered to be "partial community property" or even ruled to be fully community property due to contributions by the other spouse or co-mingling of assets, which may lead to complicated property division situations.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for determining property division in the state of California?
California does not have a specific list of factors for the court to consider when determining an equitable division of property between spouses. This means that judges will have flexibility when determining what factors to consider in each individual property division case.
Do courts in the state of California consider nonmonetary contributions?
California does not have a law requiring the court to consider the nonmonetary contributions (like household chores, childcare, etc) of a spouse when determining an appropriate property division.
Does California consider a spouse's economic misconduct in property division?
California law allows courts to consider economic misconduct of a spouse as a factor in determining equitable property division. Economic misconduct generally means dissipation of assets, which is the legal term for the wasting or loss of marital funds or assets by a spouse through means like excessive spending, gambling, fraud, etc.
If a spouse is found to have dissipated marital funds in a way that injured the other spouse, the court may take punitive or restorative action by awarding a higher percentage of divided property to the injured spouse.
Are a spouse's contributions to their partner's education considered in the state of California?
California statute does provide for court consideration of a spouse's contribution to their partner's education during the course of a marriage. If one spouse supported (financially or otherwise) the other and enabled them to obtain education or other training that increased their earning power, these contributions can be considered by a California judge when determining how to divide marital property.
Can a pre-nuptual agreement affect property division in California?
A prenuptual agreement, or pre-nup, is a binding legal contract signed by both spouses prior to getting married in California. A prenup containing a property division agreement can take precedence over California's property division laws by establishing what is considered as separate vs marital property, as well as agreeing on how finances will be structured during the marriage and divided in the event of a divorce.
The existance of a valid prenuptual agreement can prevent a California court from having full reign to determine how assets are divided between the spouses, and instead allow them to be divided in a way agreed to by both spouses prior to the event.
How can I enforce a property division order in California?
A California property division order is a court order issued by a court order issued by a judge, describing how property is to be divided between spouses following a divorce. A property division order is a binding legal obligation, and failure to comply with the terms in full by either spouse can result in being charged with contempt of court. If your spouse is not complying with a property division order, you can consult a family lawyer to discuss potential legal avenues.
Dower and Curtesy?
No estate by dower or curtesy (Prob. C. §6412)