Fear of the financial hardships brought on by divorce is one of the factors that makes people stay in unhappy marriages until they become certain that divorce is the only option. Every couple that gets a divorce must divide their community property, and not all states have the same rules about how to divide a couple’s property in a divorce. California is a community property state, which means that each spouse gets an equal share of the net value of the couple’s community property in California. You do not need a lawyer to fight for your fair share of the community property in California. By law, you are already entitled to half of it. Therefore, unless you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about some other issue, such as child custody, there is a good chance that you can finish your divorce without a lawyer. All you need is a registered legal document assistant to prepare your divorce documents.
Each Spouse Gets Half, but Half of What?
When a couple gets a divorce in California, the court divides the value of their marital property in half. California refers to the marital property as “community property.” Community property in California is all the money the parties have earned and all the assets they have acquired since their wedding. Separate property, such as rental properties one spouse has owned since before the couple married, or money that one spouse inherited and kept in a separate bank account, does not get divided.
The court divides the net value of the community property; it does not divide each asset in half. Therefore, one spouse might get the marital home, while the other gets several vehicles and bank accounts that the couple owned. When a large portion of the community property in California is the marital home, the court usually orders the couple to sell the house and divide the proceeds in half. In families with minor children, the parent with primary physical custody sometimes stays in the house and pays the other parent a lump sum equivalent to his or her share of the house.
The division of property is based on the net value of the community property. That means that the amount divided is the total value of the couple’s assets minus the total amount of the couple’s debts. Separate debts, such as student loans that one spouse borrowed before the couple married, do not count toward this figure.
Retirement Accounts are Community Property in California
The money deposited in retirement accounts during the marriage is a marital asset subject to community property division, and you can get half of it. To get your ex-spouse’s employer to distribute your share of the retirement account to you, you must file for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).
You Can Get Half in Your Divorce, Even Without a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is an unnecessary expense in simple divorce cases; a legal document assistant can prepare all the documents you need. Instead, choose A People’s Choice, and have a non-attorney registered legal document assistant prepare the documents for your California divorce. You can start your divorce right now using our no-obligation interview. Or call us today at 800-747-2780.
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