California is a community property state. Under California law, all of the assets and debts belonging to a married couple are divided equally upon divorce. When you are preparing to meet with your divorce lawyer, there are some ways you can begin to think about division of property and assignment of debt.
When you separate, you must both fill out a Schedule of Assets and Debts form. On this form you list all of your assets, both separate and community, and their value. Do the same for any debt you have, including mortgage, loans and credit card balances. Once this is done you can consider some of these tips while deciding who gets what:
- Assign equal value - Dividing assets does not mean necessarily slicing everything in half. Once you have assessed the value of each asset, you can each take half of the total value in any way that makes sense.
- Offset debt with assets - If you have both assets and debts, you can simplify division by using some of the debt to offset some of the assets. This can make the division process easier.
- Pay off debt whenever possible - Even if you and your ex agree on distribution of debt, no creditor has an obligation to honor that agreement. In other words, if your name is on the credit card contract, loan or mortgage, you are legally obligated to pay. It is a good idea to pay off as many debts as possible and apply for new credit cards or transfer balances to separate cards.
- Examine your pension plans - A pension can be your most valuable asset. Speak to an attorney about special conditions that apply to pension plans and how to properly assign value.
Bear in mind that the division of assets and debts is not final until a judge agrees to it. Your divorce attorney can guide you in sorting through the property that you and your partner accumulated during your marriage. Call the Law Office of Steven M. Bishop in San Diego at 619-299-9780 or contact us online.