Property Division in California refers to how we handle assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage. California is a community property state.
What Is Community Property?
Community property means that assets and debts acquired during the marriage are shared equally by the parties. All things acquired during marriage- even if you didn’t want to acquire it or did not know about it- are community property. The only general exceptions to this rule are if you receive something through an inheritance or gift.
Do I Have to Be Married in Order for the Court to Divide Property?
Yes, the court does not have any jurisdiction over shared property if the parties were not married. This comes up on numerous occasions where perhaps a couple has purchased a home together, but they were not married. Then they break-up. The court cannot address the issue of the house because the parties were not married.
If the parties were married, then the court requires each party to disclose all the assets and debts of the marriage. Then absent an agreement by the parties on how to divide everything, the court handles the division through a trial.
Do I Have to Sell My House?
It depends. On most occasions the court will allow the opportunity for one party to “buy-out” the other party. What this means is that if there is equity in the house that needs to be split, rather than selling the home and the parties each being paid half. One party chooses to remain in the home and pays the other person their half.