How is our property divided?
How is our property divided? All property must first be determined as “community property” or “separate property” prior to its division. Community property is all property that is not separate property. Separate property is any property that was owned by one of the parties before marriage, or that has been acquired by gift, devise, or inheritance during the marriage.
All separate property is awarded to the person in whose name they are owned.
Community property can be divided however if the parties agree and fail agreement, then in a “just and fair” manner. A judge has the right to make an unequal division of property, by taking into account the age, education, earning capacity of the spouses, or damages that may have been done to the “innocent” spouse. In addition, widely disparate divisions of property can be made based on the disability of a spouse or child, or the enhancement of one spouse’s community property through the use of separate property money.
When dividing the community, the “net worth” of the community is taken into account. This is found by adding the value of all community property and subtracting the community debt. Things such as cash or stocks can be divided down the middle, while other items, such as cars, houses, etc., cannot be so easily distributed. If an asset cannot be equally divided or one party would like to retain an asset intact, the other spouse can be given something of equal value or the receiving spouse may assume more community debt.