For some people, the property division process during divorce is the point at which people start seeing the reality of transitioning from a marriage to two separate lives. Not surprisingly, this can make people feel scared and overwhelmed.
A particularly challenging part of property division is deciding which property is eligible for distribution in the first place. In accordance with California property division laws, community property will be divided between spouses. However, not all property is community property. We examine the different types of property below.
Chances are that most of your property will be community property. This means it accumulated during your marriage or with income earned while you were married. Common examples of community property include:
- Bank accounts
- Pension plans
You might also have separate property, which will generally not be divided in a divorce. Separate property includes property owned by just one person before the marriage, as well as:
- Gifts to just one spouse
- Income (or debt) collected on separate property
- Property purchased with separate property
Part separate, part community property
In some cases, particularly if you have complex assets or own a business, you will have assets that mixed together over time. They might have started as separate property, but through commingling have become community property. Examples of this might include:
- Purchasing a marital home with the proceeds of the sale of separate property
- Contributions made during marriage to a pre-marital investment account
- Depositing separate money from an inheritance into a community account
Sorting it all out
In theory, this might all make sense. Again, though, it can be difficult to appreciate the challenges of property division until you actually go through it. When the time comes, emotions and legal nuances can make things far more complicated than you expected.
Rather than wait until you are in the thick of things to get the help you need, it can be a good idea to consult an attorney from the very beginning. With legal guidance throughout your divorce, you can tackle all the obstacles that may arise and avoid or minimize contentious disputes.