In California, property division is 50-50 thanks to the community property state’s guidelines. Community property-based divorces don’t have to result in you giving up half, though. In fact, it’s only marital property that is divided, so if you can show that you have property that belongs only to you, then you can seek to have it returned to you and not treated as community property.

One good thing to keep in mind is that the 50-50 guideline only applies in the case that you and your spouse take your case to court. If you opt to settle on your own, you can do whatever you think is fair. For instance, if you realize your spouse put more money into the home and marriage, then maybe they should receive 70 percent of the assets instead of 50. Or, if you put more money and time into the marriage, it would make sense if you obtained more than your soon-to-be ex-spouse. There is room for negotiation if you don’t take the case to trial. That ability to negotiate is limited if you do go before a judge with your dispute.

Any property that you or your spouse obtain during your marriage can be considered community property with one major exclusion: inheritances. Unless you add an inheritance to a shared bank account or purchase items for your family with those funds, they remain yours and won’t be divided upon divorce.

Interestingly, it’s not just assets that are divided upon divorce. Debts accrued during the marriage also divide equally unless you and your spouse can determine another way to divide them. This is something to keep in mind while you focus on how you want to divide your assets.

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