If you’re involved in a California divorce, it’s important to understand your rights. Specifically, you should finalize your divorce with a fair and even arrangement of property under California’s community property laws. Believe it or not, once you know how to properly divide your assets, you may find your divorce is more amicable and a bit easier to finalize!
Get help filing a California divorce!
California Divorce Entitlements: Property
When you file for divorce in California, any property you acquired prior to marriage, during your marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, or after the date of legal separation is deemed separate property and will remain legally yours upon the dissolution of your marriage. The court considers this property “separate property“.
On the other hand, any acquired asset, debt, or income a married person earns while living with a spouse is community property. California law requires the community estate to be divided equally between divorcing spouses unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties. For example, if a spouse obtained a professional degree or license during the marriage, the community may be eligible for reimbursement of the costs of acquiring it. Such costs may include tuition, fees, and books.
Other examples of community property include:
- Bank accounts and cash
- Pension plans and retirement accounts
California law considers residences acquired during marriage community property. Thus, spouses divorcing in California must determine how they will evenly divide community residences. When dividing community property and debt, the net value of each spouse’s share must be equal unless the parties agree otherwise. Therefore, one spouse may be awarded a vacation property and the other awarded the family residence, granted that they are of equal value.
If the spouses have minor children, the primary custodial parent may be awarded the permanent residence. Then, they may reside there with the children for a specified period of time. However, this spouse must usually pay the mortgage, property tax, and upkeep expenses unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties.
Retirement Accounts and Pension Plans
Like residences, retirement and pension benefits obtained or funded during marriage will usually be divided equally between spouses at the time of divorce. To divide retirement plans, a divorcing couple must prepare a qualified domestic relations order.
On the other hand, the court will oversee the division of pension plans as a reservation of jurisdiction or a cash out. First, under a reservation of jurisdiction, the court may order that upon the retirement of the employed spouse, the other must receive a percentage of each pension check. They calculate this percentage by dividing the years the spouses lived together in marriage or partnership by the total amount of years the employed spouse participated in the plan. In contrast, under the cash out method, or actuarial evaluation, the court will determine the “present value” of the community share of the pension plan. Upon cash out, the employed spouse may receive the pension plan in its entirety. Then, the other spouse will receive other community property assets of equivalent total value.
California Divorce Entitlements: Spousal Support
Upon divorce in California, you may be entitled to spousal support. A spousal support order requires one spouse or domestic partner to pay the other a specified amount of money each month. When determining whether to award spousal support, a judge will consider several factors, such as:
- Length of the marriage
- Domestic violence
- Age and health of both parties
- Supporting spouse’s ability to pay
- Tax consequences
- Goal of self-support
Downsides to Focusing on Entitlements in California Divorce Law
Believe it or not, focusing on entitlements in a California divorce may not be in your or your spouse’s best interest. In fact, focusing on entitlements in divorce could cause a big fight between parties. Not only do fights complicate settlements, but they can also affect the family dynamic if children are involved. For example, if one party’s entitlement to spousal and child support puts unreasonable financial pressure on their counterpart, the situation may further damage the split family’s dynamics.
Therefore, parties may benefit from focusing on compromise and agreements when settling a California divorce. Specifically, couples should consider what they’re willing to agree on, instead of what they’re entitled to. Believe it or not, couples who focus more on compromise and agreement than entitlement complete the divorce process with fewer repercussions. Plus, they are often happier with their final settlement.
Let A People’s Choice Help With Your California Divorce
At A People’s Choice, we can help you file for divorce and avoid expensive attorney fees. Although we are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice, we offer a different perspective to better help clients get through divorce in California. Therefore, if you’re looking to settle your California divorce case with the least damage possible, contact us for more information about how we can help you.
Was this article helpful? We would love to know your thoughts! If you found this article helpful, please check the LIKE button below. Your feedback helps us plan topics for future articles.
I have been married for 34 years and now my husband and I decided to file for divorce. We agreed that we will not divide our retirement/pension plan. We have two properties to split, and I decided to keep the one in San Jose, CA (higher equity) and he will keep the one in Manteca CA (lower equity). I estimated that I have to pay him $150K, difference between two equities from the 2 properties. We also have stocks (ETRADE) to split, but he claimed that his stocks. My questions is, can I get the $150K from the stocks we are going to split to buy him out?
you two will need to agree on how to split all your community property, including stock if the are in fact community property. If you cannot agree then you may want to speak with an attorney regarding next steps.
I have been married for 40 years. Things are not going well. It hasn’t gotten any better. I know now that it won’t. My fault, I just want it to end. I have been working for 40 or so years and retiring this December. My wife hasn’t worked in over 20 years. She’s not handicapped, she just didn’t work. I’m the sole provider. We have a house under both our names. Kids are grown and out of the house.. I also had a child outside of our marriage and is now 4 years old and currently paying child support. I will be getting a decent pension when I retire. I also have a decent IRA retirement account. From what I understand she will get half of everything I have. I have accepted this fact. Just want to this to end and move on with my life. I don’t have anything of great value. Will I be able to sell my home and just give her the equity? So she can use it to purchase her own home. I know I’m still liable for spousal support. Is this something we need to agree on first? Just want to make this issue as painless and less complicated as possible for all involved.
Hello John, We can prepare the documents with the terms you and your spouse have agreed upon. We ask initial information on the front end but can finalize this prior to the actual filing of those documents.
I have an industrial disability retirement from PERS (California Highway Patrol group5) which I received in 1993. I have been told that my wife has no right to any part of this. is this true? I married in 2010 and am divorcing. The house is in her name. What can I do? Ideally, she can have the house. I just want it to end.
We can certainly help you prepare documentation regarding the retirement or property if necessary. Unfortunately we cannot give you legal advice. I would recommend that you talk to an attorney first and if you decide you do need additional paperwork prepared give us a call at 800-747-2780.
Hi, my wife and I are married for 7+ years. We own a house together with mortgage, no other debts and good jobs. If we settle our property and financials amicably, what is the fastest way to get a divorce and what is the procedure?
we can easily help you prepare all of the documentation for an uncontested divorce. The whole process can be completed through the paperwork without a court hearing. you can get started through one of our quick start interviews on our website or give us a call at 805-648-5540
I’ve been married for 16 years and my wife who had steadily worked for several years has not worked in almost 10 years since we had a child who is 9 years old (surprise pregnancy). We had always agreed she would go back to work after our child entered school. She always found excuses not to go back and our most recent discussion ended with her refusing and that in her mind I am supposed to take care of her no matter what she decides. She refuses to make a budget as well so we cannot save for retirement. If I die she will collect my life insurance and move in with friends or back to her country of birth. I love my daughter, but I feel like I no longer have a partner. Not sure what to do.
Long term marriages may make you obligated for long term spousal support. It seems you need to decide if you want to stay married. If not, you should probably file a divorce and address the issue of spousal support right away.
I have recently moved to Europe and I want to divorce my American husband. We married in the US and lived in California together for 10 years. How do I file from overseas? Can I hire somebody to file the papers for me?
Does your husband still live in California? If so we can help. Give us a call at 805-648-5540 or use out quick start interview https://apeopleschoice.com/california-family-law/quick-start-divorce-legal-separation-annulment-interview/
I have been married 9 years but have been in an almost common law marriage with my spouse for 16 years. he just recently left our home, he actually abandoned our marriage because he said that he wanted to be with his kids ( they are all 40 year old losers). we live in a 53year old mobile home while he went back to his house of 750000 to live with his kid, he left me as I was recovering from being in the hospital with Covid 19. What are my rights. we own apartments, we have an IRA that I taught him how to invest the money in stocks, we also own a Timeshare, and he also owns numerous properties in Mexico.
If you want to review your legal rights you woukd need to speak with a lawyer. We are not allowed to advise but we can definitely help you prepare any paperwork you need to file the process.
Sister been married 40 years to disloyal husband. She’s finally considering divorce. Her husband inherited a house and some stock from his aunt, and the house and stock are only in his name. That’s been their primary residence for the last several years because the aunt has been passed away for several years. if my sister files for divorce is she able to get 50% of the house and stock or is it excluded cuz he inherited it from his aunt?
Inheritance is typically considered separate property so it is unlikely; but your sister should talk to an attorney for any necessary legal advice.
Hello, my husband and I have been married for 22 yrs but separated the last two years. We get along have no kids, no property we have just grown apart and he is a severe alcoholic. He currently pays my rent and my car payment which totals $1500 a month. I’m thinking of moving out of state but think it may be best to file for divorce before. If he agrees to continue to pay me spousal support can we get a divorce without having to seek a attorney? And how long can I get support. I would like his help now and then in the future help him. We have always cared for each other’s well being. No fighting here.
Yes Anna we can help you with this divorce process. Just give us a call at 800-747-2780.
My husband signed a waiver that the previous home I purchased was separate property to my name alone. He was never on the loan or mortgage, I have since sold that house but do I need to share the amount of the sale with him since he waived his rights on the home at the time of purchase?
I would ask this question to an attorney.
My husband and I have only been married one year. Am I still entitled to spousal support and his retirement? He also purchased a car and a rental property under his name.
You have a short term marriage so it would probably be minimal to none. You might want to talk to an attorney
June 19 2021 we will be married for 10 years been together for 16 years in all those years he has been lieing I was told the truth by his sister in 2019 so I don’t trust that he is telling me everything about his investments. Should I consult a lawyer to find any hidden investments?
Yes as to get any necessary legal advice you may need.
The house we are living in was purchased during our marriage, however, the down payment was made by one of the spouses from the sale of the previous property. That property was purchased before marriage. How do we go about current property rights without selling it.
You can address this issue in a Marital Settlement Agreement if you are now divorcing.
First – thank you!
We own a timeshare and I am not sure what the process is with this if we get a divorce. I can’t afford it alone- what can we do to get out of it?
I would contact the Timeshare Co to see what options they may have.
My daughter married for hardly week and his husband appeal for divorce..she left her husband now 6 month but didn’t get divorce certificate. What should I do for getting divorce certificate as soon as possible
Check the court docket to see if the divorce is complete
I want to buy a house but I’m legally married to a man which I have been separated from for 6 years now, will he have any rights to it when we get legally divorsed?
Probably not if you have been separated but I would get legal advice from a lawyer.
My daughter was married for 22 years and now divorced for 9 yrs… her ex is retiring next year and she will receive half of his pension each month. He says she should have already been collecting it for a couple of years now. How can that be when he hasn’t even retired
You would need to look at the QDRO rider and what the Plan allows. Every retirement division is unique to those two issues. You may want to have an attorney review the QDRO document and explain what it’s terms are to her.
Legally married for about 24 yrs have been separated for over 20yrs have not even spoken to each other. I want a divorce will she be entitled to 50/50.
Usually the length of marriage is only period of time together which means 4 years not 24 years. Talk to an attorney but I think it would be highly unlikely..
My husband wants a divorce after 3 years of marriage. He was handicap when we got married. He gets $1400 SSI I bring home $3400
Would I have to pay him spousal support?
I have a pending employment settlement still going through the process. Depositions are end of June. Court date scheduled for November. If I file in April and the settlement doesn’t happen until after the divorce. Will he be entitled to 50/50 of the entire settlement or only a portions of it, like loss wages and maybe a few years of futre lost wages?
Unfortunately we cannot give you legal advice. I would recommend you address your legal questions to an attorney.
I have been married for 51 years. I would have divorced 11 years ago, but he had a stroke and needs 24-hr care. I have been his primary caregiver for all the years since the stroke. He receives 100% disability from the VA. I do not want to continue to be tied to him. I am willing to leave our home, though it would be better for him to go to an assisted living home—he spends 22 hours of every day in bed. He can’t do anything himself but feed himself. How do I start a divorce?
I am sorry to hear of your circumstances. Please give our office a call at 800-747-2780 if you want to start divorce proceedings.
I’ve been married 30 years my husband is a hard-core alcoholic he is verbally abusive he’s had several Affairs and my life is absolutely miserable. I don’t want to live with him hey longer I have three daughters all over the age of 18 he was an ironworker he made great money he has a retirement he has an annuity we also have a home he doesn’t want the home he just wants half of his annuity he plans on living with a cousin and giving the cousin half of his annuity as a gift for letting him live there I’m upset with that because I feel if he’s going to give the money to anybody he should give it to her daughter’s not sure what to do
You probably should file for divorce if that is the path you want to take, and seek immediate protections and temporarily orders . Call us for help at 800-747-2780.
My brother is in jail and during the time he was in jail he signed a grant deed and added his wife to title of the 25% thst was gifted to him by our late mother. The wife now wants a divorce thinking she will get half of his percentage of the house. They have been married 2.5 years and he has been incarcerated for 1.5 years of the 2.5 years.
It’s hard to say how a judge would look at this issue.
Hello, we have been married for about 4 and a half years with a year of separation and we have tried to see if we could live together for the last 7 months , there is an substance problem she won’t deal with I either want a legal separation or s divorce at this point I’m self employed and she works about 30 hours a week , my pension and SS were earned and already funded before we married and the home and vehicle were also purchased before marriage and all of the property taxes and home costs are paid out of my separate savings accumulated with a previous property many years ago , I’m 69 she’s 59 , what would be best for both of us to move on.
The best solution would be to have you both sign an agreement that amicably resolves all the issues. Our approach is conducive to getting the parties to complete the case outside of a trial our court battle. Give us a call at 800-747-2780 for help.
Im trying get divorce we bought a house I only lived there for 11 months he wants give me only $7500.00 for it I made house payments for the 11 month and also put money down for it this is a new home His been paying the house sence I left him someone told me that I shouldnt even get 50/50 for the House cause I wasn’t here for so long we been married for 18 years together doe 25 years what can I do
It’s hard to say what you should do. Our philosophy is to promote the parties r aching an agreement. Make sure you sit down and thoroughly consider all possible settlement options.
Hello my name is Nelly,
I am married to my husband for 22 years. As is. Is he is receiving pension from the military and the VA disability. He will be retiring from the feeeral next year and he will be receiving another pension after retirement. He also have IRA. Our property is both in our names. What am I entitled too?
As a non-attorney, our role is strictly limited to legal document preparation. We cannot legally give you advice out what you are entitled to. I would speak to an attorney and then if you want to save money regarding the document preparation you can contact us to prepare the paperwork.
Hello. My wife and I have been married for 30 years but separated for 17 years. We have decided to get a divorce. We have no minor children together, and no home, or material property to divide. The only community property we jointly share is our individual retirement funds. My question is, do we need to hire attorneys to settle the division of our pension plans?
Hey Tyronne – we can help you with the divorce and the retirement division QDRO. If you and your wife agree there should be no need to hire an attorney. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.
My husband And I have been married for almost 30 years.There has been significant spousal abuse but only documented in the last 2 years. No longer in love with each other, it’s time to move on. Kids are grown & gone. We jointly own our mortgaged house. We’re both self-employed, both businesses are home-based. He’s on permanent disability but does some work on the side anyway. I suffer from significant neurological issues making full time work very difficult. I’m 59 & he’s 62. How difficult will it be for me to get alimony. I need to keep the house.
I cannot comment on what a judge would order for alimony. We can only help you present the facts of your case in the best light possible. Let us know if we can help.
Hi, my sister has been married for 20 years. Her husband bought the house before they got married, now they gave raised 2 kids in that house, is she entitled to half the house equity in a divorce or nothing when it comes to the house?
She may have an interest in the increased value of the real property, particularly if community funds were use to pay the mortgage, real property taxes and upkeep. I would recommend talking to an attorney on this issue.
My husband took all the money out from bank. What should I do. He said he will give one after divorce which i will file. He don’t want to file. Suppose i don’t want to go for divorce then how can i tell to put money back in bank. I am stressed. He took from joint and put in his private bank.
Once you file divorce restraining orders come into play. You may also want to file a motion to return the $. Call us at 805-648-5540!
Hi. Well! I’m just not in love or want to be around this man I married 33 years ago. His addictions are wearing me down. I’m exhausted and just want out. I’m not asking for the world. I just need to be able to leave and be able to get going on my own. I’m 60 years old and in good shape. But I’ve allowed him to take care of the finances. I just need to know my first step.
If you want to file for divorce, we can help you with the paperwork. Just give us a call at 800-747-2780.
I’ve been married for one year and a month, left my home , job and life to move to where he lives. We paid the wedding with some of my retirement money, used my credit cards for moving companies and paid part of his debts.. The house is all furnished with my stuff. I went through surgery and couldn’t held a job til now. He now wants a divorce. What should I do or where do I start?
You definitely want to bring this issue before the court. If you have been served you will want to file a Response. You can file a Motion at the same time. Call us for help at 800-747-2780.
My friend was divorced from his wife .They were married for ten years.Seperated after 8 years but divorce did not finalized till ten years anniversary.His wife remarried after 5 years of divorced.My friend retired 5 years ago.Is the ex wife entitled to received part of his pension under California law ?I appreciate your responds.Thank you.
All retirement issues and any division of retirement should’ve been addressed in the final judgment of divorce.