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Property division in divorce benefits from compromise

California is a community property state, so, when a couple gets divorced, any property or assets acquired during the marriage has to be divided between the two spouses. In the same way, marital debts must also be divided. Separating couples are entitled to draft a plan for debt and property division in a way they believe to be fair. However, until a court has approved such a plan, all assets and debts continue to belong to both spouses.

Discussing property or asset division can become contentious, and divorcing partners may benefit from the mediation services offered by their attorneys. A mediator will facilitate open discussions in an attempt to reach an agreeable and fair plan of division. Dividing community property does not always mean physical division, and compromise plays a significant role in the process.

A simple example of such compromise is a couple with two bank accounts. If the balances on both accounts are roughly equal, spouses may agree to keeping one account each. If the balance in one account is much more substantial than the other, an asset with a value equal to the difference can be allocated to the spouse keeping the account with the lower balance. Debt can be addressed in a similar manner. If one spouse keeps an asset such as a house or car that has a significant value, the couple's credit card debt can be allocated to that person, resulting in the burden of debt offsetting the value of the asset.

While these examples are very basic, many California divorces involve property division that is much more complex. Couples will have to ensure that bank accounts and other assets no longer carry the names of both spouses, in addition to meeting other legal requirements. The services of an experienced property division attorney can help guide divorcing spouses through the process of asset division and ensure that his or her clients' rights are protected. Presenting a property division plan that will hold up in court may prevent important decisions that may affect both spouses' post-divorce lives from ending up in the hands of a judge.

Source:, "Dividing Property and Debts in a Divorce", Jan. 6, 2015

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