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Understanding the Division of Assets in a Divorce

by Law Offices of David M. Lederman
Jun 2, 2023

Aside from children, there is likely no other divisive, contentious element of a California divorce than the division of assets. California follows the principle of community property, which is codified in the California Family Code at Section 2550 and means that marital assets and debts should be divided equally between spouses. The principle itself seems basic enough that the division of property and debts should be easy enough: you just split it equally down the center. 

But the division of assets is not so simple. Here’s a guide to alert you to the process and all the many factors that can complicate that process. Knowledge is your advantage in a divorce and the division of your marital property.

The Process of Dividing Assets

Community property, also referred to as marital property, is property acquired during the marriage. Property in this sense not only includes actual property but debt as well. The asset division process is straightforward and can be divided into three parts:

  1. Identify the community property, both assets and debt;
  2. Assign values to the community property; and
  3. Divide the communal property.

1. Identifying Community Property

Community property can be summarized into three parts:

  1. Anything you earned while married up to the point of separation;
  2. Anything you bought with money you earned while married up to the point of separation; and 
  3. Debt you accrued or took on while married up to the point of separation.

During the division of process you must identify all of this property, so it is good to sit down with a spreadsheet and start listing all personal and real property you own as well as all debts you owe, starting from the date you were married.

Community property