California is a 50/50 state: What that means and how to get around it

July 31, 2023

When it comes to divorce, California is a 50/50 state. That means that if two spouses are separating, they will typically each get half of the property and assets they acquired during the marriage with some exceptions. If you are considering a divorce in California, you may be wondering what this 50/50 split means for you and how you can get around it. In this blog post, we’ll explain what it means to be a 50/50 state, the implications it has for your divorce, and some tips for getting around this policy. 

 

What does it mean to be a 50/50 state?

 

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience. One of the most significant factors that can cause stress during a divorce is the division of assets. In California, the state follows a 50/50 law, which means that any assets that were acquired during the marriage are split equally between both spouses.

 

While this may seem like a fair approach to asset division, it can create problems for individuals who want to keep what's theirs. If you've built a successful business or have valuable assets that you don't want to share equally, California's 50/50 law may present a challenge.

 

It's important to understand what this law means for your divorce proceedings. Essentially, any assets or property that you and your spouse have acquired during your marriage with some exceptions are considered community property and will be divided equally during the divorce process. This includes everything from your house and car to your savings accounts and retirement funds.

 

However, any property or assets that were acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation, with some exceptions, are considered separate property and are not subject to the 50/50 rule. This means that you can keep what's yours if you can prove that it's separate property.

 

In some cases, couples may have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that outlines how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. If you have a prenup or postnup in place, it may override California's 50/50 law and provide a different framework for asset division.

 

Ultimately, going through a divorce in a 50/50 state like California means that you may need to be prepared to divide your assets equally with your spouse. However, there are strategies and options available that can help you navigate this process and ensure that you keep what's rightfully yours. 

 

How does California's 50/50 law work?

 

Going through a divorce in California can be a complex and stressful process. One of the key aspects of California divorce law is the 50/50 law. This law is also known as community property law and means that assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage are considered equally owned by both spouses.

 

This can be a source of frustration for many people who feel like they should be entitled to keep what’s rightfully theirs. However, it’s important to remember that in California, essentially, what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. This law is designed to ensure that both parties in a divorce receive an equal share of the marital assets and debts.

 

The 50/50 law can apply to all types of property, including real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts. It can also apply to debt, including credit cards and loans. In essence, any property that was acquired during the marriage is considered community property and will be divided equally between the spouses.

 

However, it’s important to note that there are exceptions to this law. If one spouse can prove that they acquired the property before the marriage, it may not be considered community property. Additionally, if one spouse receives an inheritance or gift during the marriage, it may be considered separate property and not subject to the 50/50 law.

 

If you’re going through a divorce in California, it’s important to understand how the 50/50 law works. This will help you navigate the division of assets and debts and ensure that you receive a fair settlement. It’s also important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you protect your rights and assets.

 


 

How to navigate the 50/50 law in California

 

The 50/50 law in California can seem daunting at first glance, but there are ways to navigate it in order to keep what's yours.

 

The first step is to understand the law itself. As we discussed earlier, the 50/50 law means that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are split equally between both parties in a divorce. However, this does not necessarily mean that each spouse will walk away with half of everything.

There are several factors that can come into play when determining the division of assets in a divorce. For example, if one spouse owned a property prior to the marriage and kept it separate throughout the marriage, that property may not be subject to the 50/50 law. Similarly, if one spouse has significantly more income or assets than the other, a court may decide to adjust the division of assets accordingly.

 

Another important consideration is the length of the marriage. In California, a marriage that lasts less than 10 years is considered a short-term marriage, while a marriage that lasts more than 10 years is considered a long-term marriage. This distinction can have an impact on the division of assets, with long-term marriages often resulting in a more equal division.

 

So, how can you navigate the 50/50 law in California to keep what's yours? The first step is to be proactive. If you have assets that you want to protect, consider taking steps to keep them separate throughout the marriage. This may include maintaining separate bank accounts or keeping a pre-marital property in your name only. Prenuptial agreements are also advisable as well as postnuptial agreements.

 

It's also important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and options under California law. Your attorney can help you negotiate a fair division of assets that takes into account the unique circumstances of your marriage.

 

Ultimately, navigating the 50/50 law in California requires careful planning and strategic decision-making. By understanding the law and working with a skilled attorney, you can protect your assets and keep what's rightfully yours in a divorce. 

 

Factors that affect the 50/50 law in California

 

While California law is clear that marital property is split 50/50, there are factors that can affect how that split is actually implemented. One important factor is whether property is classified as community property or separate property.

 

Community property includes assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. This means that even if only one spouse earns an income, both spouses have a claim to that income and any property purchased with it. Similarly, debts incurred during the marriage are also considered community property and will be split evenly in a divorce.

 

On the other hand, separate property includes assets that were acquired before the marriage or after separation. These assets will generally be considered the sole property of the spouse who acquired them, and will not be subject to the 50/50 split. However, if separate property is commingled with community property (such as using separate funds to pay a mortgage on a marital home), it can become more complicated to determine what portion is community and what portion is separate.

 

Another factor that can affect the 50/50 split is whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place. These agreements can specify how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, and can override the default community property laws in California. If you want to ensure that you keep what's yours in a divorce, it's important to consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. 

In addition, the length of the marriage can also be a factor in how assets are divided. In general, the longer the marriage, the more likely it is that assets will be split evenly. However, if one spouse brought significant assets into the marriage or contributed substantially more to the marriage during its course, a court may take that into account and award a larger portion of the marital property to that spouse.

 

Finally, it's worth noting that while California law mandates a 50/50 split of marital property, spouses are free to come to their own agreement on how to divide their assets. If both parties are willing to work together and negotiate a fair division, they may be able to avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle. 

 

How long does California divorce take?

 

When it comes to divorce, timing is everything. Not only does it affect your emotional wellbeing, but it can also have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce settlement. In California, the divorce process can be long and complicated, which is why it's important to know what to expect.

 

Firstly, it's worth noting that California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that neither party has to prove that the other is at fault for the divorce. Instead, the only requirement is that one party must declare that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This makes the divorce process simpler and faster compared to states that require fault-based grounds.

 

That being said, the length of a divorce in California can vary depending on a variety of factors. One of the biggest factors is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. If both parties are in agreement on all issues, including property division, child custody, and support, the divorce can be finalized relatively quickly. In fact, in some cases, it can take as little as six months from the filing date to the final judgment.

 

However, if there are disputes over any of these issues, the divorce process can be much longer. When the court is asked to make decisions on these matters, the process becomes more complicated, and it can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to reach a final settlement. 

Another factor that can affect the length of a divorce is the complexity of the couple's financial situation. For example, if the couple owns a business together, or if they have significant assets to divide, the divorce process can take longer. In these cases, it's important to hire a skilled divorce attorney who can help ensure that you keep what's rightfully yours.

 

It's also worth noting that the divorce process can be further delayed if one or both parties are not willing to compromise. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the case may have to go to trial, which can take several months to complete.

 

In summary, the length of a divorce in California depends on a variety of factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of the couple's finances, and whether both parties are willing to compromise. If you're going through a divorce, it's important to work with a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. With the right support and guidance, you can get through the divorce process with minimal stress and move on to a brighter future. 

 

What to do if you want your assets spilt 50/50 in California

 

If you and your spouse have decided to split your assets 50/50 in California, there are some things you can do to make the process smoother. While the 50/50 law may seem straightforward, there are still some steps you should take to ensure that you keep what's rightfully yours.

 

First, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you own and what your spouse owns. This means taking inventory of all your assets, including property, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and any other investments you may have. You'll want to gather all the necessary documentation and records to show proof of ownership, such as deeds, titles, and statements. I highly recommend working with a skilled family law attorney and skilled forensic accountant because (1) they will make the process easier and more efficient and (2) you do not know what you do not know until you do not know it. 2 is critical; I see a lot of people get themselves into trouble because they try to handle their divorce cases themselves or, worse, work with a paralegal.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that even though assets may be split 50/50, there may still be some exceptions or variations. For example, if one spouse brought certain assets into the marriage, they may be entitled to keep those assets separate. Additionally, there may be tax implications to consider when dividing assets, so it's important to work with a financial advisor or accountant to ensure that you're making informed decisions.

 

Ultimately, the key to ensuring that you keep what's yours during a California divorce is to be organized, proactive, and thorough. By taking the time to understand the 50/50 law and working with trusted professionals, you can navigate the divorce process with confidence and ensure that your assets are split fairly. 

 

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