When parties separate as the result of a divorce or legal separation, the court must decide how to divide property and other assets as well as assign any outstanding debt. The court must do this no matter whose name is attached to an asset or debt. Property includes real property, cash, stocks, pensions, investments, household items, jewelry, art, etc.
California is a community property state. This means that any property acquired during the marriage will normally be divided equally between the parties. Generally speaking, property acquired prior to marriage, after separation, or obtained by gift or inheritance is separate property and will be awarded to the party acquiring the property. However, there are many factors and circumstances which can change the characterization of a particular piece of property.
Parties often fall into the trap of believing that