Divorce Attorneys

Ask a Divorce Attorney – Property Division FAQ

What does community property mean?

Community property is all property acquired by either party during the marriage except gifts and inheritances.

What if I brought assets into the marriage?

Assets owned prior marriage are separate property. However, in certain circumstances, the marital community can acquire an interest in the separate property of one spouse. Once example is when mortgage payments are made with community income on a separate property house after the date of marriage.

What if my spouse signed over title to the house to me?

In California, title of a house does not generally control on the issue of ownership in divorce cases. In fact, if one spouse signs over title of a marital asset to the other during the marriage, then there is a presumption of undue influence that must be rebutted by the spouse asserting sole ownership of the property.

What if we have separate bank accounts/ credit cards?

If the money was earned during the marriage then it is divided in half. If the debt was accrued during the marriage then it is divided in half. Unless you have a prenupt then the name on the account makes no difference.

Who gets to keep the house?

Two things can happen to a marital house, it can be sold with the proceeds divided, or one party can purchase the other party’s interest from them. If both parties want to keep the house then it will generally be ordered sold.

How is a pension divided?

In California a pension is divided by calculating the community interest and awarding the non- employee spouse his or her half. The formula used is called the time rule or the Brown Formula and considers the overlap of marriage and time served with the company. The community is only entitled to a pro-rate share of the pension and does not get credit for working years during which the parties were not married.