Property division in CA: What you should know?

Separating property in a divorce may be frustrating, but it helps to have a basic knowledge of how the process works.

Whether couples are in the beginning stages of divorce, or have been going through the process for a length of time, they may be aware of the many factors that must be negotiated before the divorce can be finalized. Discussing the terms of the settlement may be extremely difficult, especially when it comes to property division. People become attached to the items, furniture, property and assets they have amassed throughout the course of the marriage. It can be hard to part with them. However, it is important for people to know what they are entitled to in the divorce settlement as well as the how community and separate property can affect them.

Community property

California is one of nine states that follow the community property model of property division in litigation cases. This means that all property accumulated throughout the course of the marriage is equally divided in half, without regard to the health, age or employment of either party. In addition to family vehicles, home, furniture, term life insurance policies and other assets, there are several less common types of marital property that people should know about. These include the following:

· Lottery ticket winnings and income tax refunds.

· Expensive collections, such as antiques, horses, coins, cars and art.

· Intellectual property, such as patents, royalties, trademarks and copyrights.

· Exclusive golf course and country club memberships.

· Frequent flyer and travel rewards points.

If one party lent someone money during the time the couple was married, the spouse is entitled to half of that sum when the borrower repays it.

A look at separate property

Not all property and assets are considered community and are able to be divided in a divorce settlement. Items such as inheritance or gifts given by an outside party to either spouse, are separate and may stay with the initial owner once the divorce is finalized. Furthermore, any property and/or assets that were owned prior to the marriage may stay with the original owner if the title of that property stays in his or her name. If the separate money is deposited into a joint bank account or the title is modified to include the other spouse's name, the property may become community and subject to division. Do not make any assumptions, however; talk to an experienced attorney.

Looking at your options

When filing for divorce, you have many options. Going through the process can be emotional and seem overwhelming. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney by your side can often help simplify the process and ensure you get everything to which you are entitled in the settlement.