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Does my spouse really get half of everything in a divorce?

In California, you may have heard that in a divorce you and your spouse will split all assets, half and half. While this is true, in part,  it is not entirely true, because what is divided equally is the “community property.” However, not all assets in a marriage are community property.

To put it simply, there are two classifications of property; community property and separate property. Community property is property (or assets) acquired during the marriage. However, if something was acquired prior to marriage, but is used during the marriage, like a house or car, that will likely be classified as separate property, and therefore your spouse will not automatically receive half, as is often the misconception.

Other items that may be separate property, even if acquired during the marriage, are inheritances or gifts. These assets are also not divided equally like community property.

On the other hand, community property is all property or assets acquired during the marriage. For the most part, community property is divided equally between the parties or spouses, and this is where the misconception comes from that your spouse will get half of everything.

Be mindful if you have a substantial amount of assets that you acquired prior to marriage, you will want to be well versed in your rights with respect to your separate property and your spouse’s interest, if any, in those assets.

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