A divorce proceeding is more than just ending a marriage – it also involves dealing with all issues that comes with the marriage. A big part of a divorce involves dividing your property and debts. Property is anything that has value and can be purchased or sold. This includes a house, car, paintings, as well as bank accounts, 401k, and stocks.
Even if you and your spouse have come to a resolution to divide everything informally, a judge still needs to make a formal order pertaining to issues of property and debts. This does not mean you will have to formally take your divorce to court. A judge can approve an agreement that you and your spouse write up and present. If you are not able to agree on how to divide your property and debts, the judge will make the decision for you at a formal hearing or during the trial.
Division of Property in California
To understand how to divide your debts and property during your divorce proceeding, you must first understand some legal terms and some California property law. The two most important terms you will see on many court forms and must be familiar with are separate and community property.
- Community Property. Community property is any type of property you and your spouse own or owe together during your marriage. Basically, this is any property that belongs to both spouses equally. Some common ways to identify community property is:
- Anything you earned while married
- Anything you bought with money you earned during your marriage
- Debt you take on while married
- Separate Property. Separate property is any property you own or owe individually from prior to getting married or after you are separated. This includes any gifts or inheritance. You can tell something is separate property if:
- You earned or owned (or a debt) from before you were married or after you separated
- You bought it with separate property or you earned it from separate property
- You inherited it or received it as a gift
In some cases, separate and community property can comingle. This means that the two types of property got mixed together. This typically happens with big purchases, retirement plans, and bank accounts.
Labeling and dividing property in a divorce proceeding can get complicated. It is best to consult with and hire an experienced Fresno divorce attorney to make the process more streamlined and protect your legal rights.
Call an Experienced Fresno Divorce Attorney
If you are in the process of getting a divorce or plan on initiating one, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Fresno divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.