When we read divorce headlines, we often read about the child custody, child support and spousal support battles. In addition, we read about the battles over the family home and celebrity mansions. It is these latter headlines that involve divorce property division.
The property division process, generally
In the property division process, you must divide your community property and debts. This includes your home, furniture, car, bank and brokerage accounts, pensions, 401ks, retirement accounts, etc. Anything that can be sold, bought or that has value in the marital estate must be split. And, even if you already made have a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, whether formal or informal, the judge still must agree to it.
California’s property categories
California classifies property as either separate or community. Separate property is kept by its owner, and community property is split in the property division process. Separate property is all that property that was brought into the marriage, or that was individually received as a gift or inheritance after the marriage. Community property, on the other hand, is all that property acquired after the marriage.
The end of community property
While the beginning of the community property estate is easily discernible (the marriage date), the end, not so much. This is because you have to determine your separation date. Usually, this is the date where one spouse let the other spouse know they want a divorce. This can be done by words or actions, but those words or actions must be consistent thereafter with a person that wants to end their marriage.
This could be the day you moved out, or the day you asked your spouse to move out. For other relationships, it could be the date there was an agreement to separate, which included divorce plans. Whichever date it is though, from that day forward, the community property estate stops collecting any new assets or debts.