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Dividing Your Property
During your divorce, the courts will formalize the division of your property, assets, and liabilities. California is a “community property” state, which means that all of your property acquired during your marriage, with the exception of inheritance or gifts, is owned by both you and your spouse, unless there is a formal written contract to show otherwise. The courts divide community property equally, unless you and your spouse agree to divide it differently.
What Gets Divided
A fair market evaluation of your community property is usually needed during a divorce. Sometimes a Certified Public Account (or “CPA”) is required to attest to the value of certain items, i.e., a business operated during the marriage. The Law Office of Peter H. Wernicke has specialists available to engage and testify in these areas.
The following list shows what is commonly divided in a divorce:
California’s laws provide for an “equal” division of property acquired during a marriage. Division is usually made without regard to marital misconduct; instead, a court considers the following:
All liabilities must also be divided when the Court dissolves the marriage. Consideration is given to the type of debt and the circumstances under which it arose. Student loans are generally assigned to the spouse who obtained the education.
Caution: Most credit card account agreements provide for joint liability for any charges made on a joint account. Each spouse is still responsible for any debts incurred after separation and before the dissolution of marriage is made final. Therefore, creditors should be instructed to remove your name from the account in writing, or you may be liable for your spouse's charges. If you wish to maintain credit with certain creditors, establish a separate account.
It should be noted that the Courts frown upon spouses who misappropriate (or hide) community property. If the Courts find that a spouse has deliberately misappropriated community property, the Courts may grant an unequal division.
It is important to devote careful thought to the division of your community property, especially considering the financial impact it will have upon your life.
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