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Divorce and community property in California

Most couples agonize over the decision of whether to end their marriage. While the decision to divorce may be a difficult one to make, most who choose to do so would admit that it is in the best interest of all involved. However, once the couple ultimately decides to take legal action, there are multiple other decisions that must be made. For many couples in California, this includes determining what is community property.

California laws regarding community property differ from the majority of states. State laws in most states involve an equitable distribution of property; factors such as the income of each spouse and the length of the marriage are taken into consideration when dividing assets. However, California is a community property state when it comes to divorce proceedings.

Under such laws, all community property is considered owned equally by both parties. This marital property can include many different items, including income received by a spouse during the marriage and property purchased during the marriage from such income. Debt is also equally shared. Typically, anything that was acquired before a marriage, gained through an inheritance or acquired after a legal separation is separate property so long as they are not placed in a joint account with the other party.

Despite California laws, a 50/50 split in a divorce is not inevitable. Couples in uncontested divorces can come up with their own asset division plan. Additionally, many couples choose to create a prenuptial agreement that will detail what will be considered community property and how it should be handling in any subsequent divorce proceedings. An experienced family law attorney can help any individuals -- whether married or planning to marry -- understand the implications of state law on their assets.

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