If you are involved in a California divorce, it is important to understand your rights. Specifically, you should end your divorce with a fair and equal property settlement under California’s community property law. Believe it or not, once you know how to properly divide your assets, you may find your divorce cuter and a little easier to complete!
California Divorce Entitlements: Property
When you file for divorce in California, any property you acquire before you get married, during your marriage by a gift, property or will or after the date of legal separation is considered property. separate and will remain legally your property when your marriage falls apart. The court considers this property “separate property”.
On the other hand, any property, debt or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse is community property. California law requires community estates to be shared equally among divorced spouses unless otherwise agreed by the parties. For example, if the spouse obtains a diploma or professional license during the marriage period, the community may qualify for reimbursement for the cost of obtaining that degree. That cost may include tuition, fees and books.
Other examples of community property include:
- Bank accounts and cash
- Pension plans and retirement accounts
See also: How to Find a Good Divorce Attorney
California law considers homes acquired during the marriage period the property of the community. Therefore, California spouses divorcing must determine how they will equally share residences in the community. When distributing community assets and liabilities, the net worth of each spouse’s share should be equal unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Consequently, one spouse may be given a holiday property and the other given to the family residence, provided they are of equal value.
If the spouse has a minor child, the primary guardian may be granted permanent residency. They can then reside there with the children for a certain amount of time. However, the spouse usually has to pay the mortgage, property taxes and maintenance costs unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
Retirement Accounts and Pension Plans
Like residences, retirement and pension benefits obtained or funded during the marriage will usually be divided equally between spouses at the time of divorce. To divide retirement plans, a divorcing couple must prepare a qualified domestic relations order.
On the other hand, the court will oversee the distribution of the retirement plans as a reservation of jurisdiction or a cash amount. First, under a jurisdictional reservation, a court may order that when the working spouse retires, the other must receive a percentage of each pension check. They calculate this percentage by dividing the number of years the spouse lived in a marriage or partnership by the total number of years the employed spouse was involved in the plan. Conversely, under the withdrawal method or computational evaluation, the court will determine the “present value” of the community portion of the pension program. After the money is withdrawn, the working spouse can receive full retirement plans. Then, the other spouse will receive other community assets of equal total value.
California Divorce Entitlements: Spousal Support
When you get divorced in California, you may be able to receive spousal support. A spousal support order requires one spouse or partner to pay the other a specific amount each month. In determining whether support should be given to the spouse, the judge will consider several factors, such as:
- Length of the marriage
- Domestic violence
- Age and health of both parties
- Supporting spouse’s ability to pay
- Tax consequences
- Goal of self-support
Downsides to Focusing on Entitlements in California Divorce Law
Believe it or not, focusing on rights during a California divorce may not be in the best interest of you or your spouse. In fact, focusing on rights when a divorce can cause a big fight between the parties. Fights not only complicate arrangements but can also affect family affection if children are involved. For example, if a party enjoying spousal support and the children put undue financial pressure on their partner, the situation could further damage the dynamics of the divided family.
As a result, the parties can benefit from focusing on compromise and agreements when settling a divorce in California. Specifically, couples should consider what they are willing to agree to, rather than what they are entitled to. Believe it or not, couples who focus more on compromise and agreement rather than benefits will complete the divorce process with fewer consequences. Plus, they are usually happier with their final settlement.
Let A People’s Choice Help With Your California Divorce
At Lynx Legal Service, we can help you file for divorce and avoid expensive attorneys’ fees. While we are not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice, we offer a different perspective to better help clients get through divorce in California. So if you’re looking to settle your California divorce with as little damage as possible, contact us for more information on how we can help you.
Please call us at 888-441-2355 or fax to 925-684-7994 or email our intake and order form to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our paralegals will be in touch ASAP.