In a divorce, a lot of time and money are generally spent deciding who gets what. Assessing and evaluating marital assets can be complicated, and California is a community property state, which means that property should be divided evenly, which can become very complex. In a divorce (also known as a marriage dissolution) in addition to dividing assets, significant time may be spent assessing and dividing liabilities such as loans and other debts. Before property is divided, it needs to be identified, characterized and valued. In addition to physical, tangible property such as houses, cars, and stocks and bonds, marital property can also intangibles such as intellectual property. Assets and liabilities acquired by both spouses during the marriage belong equally to both parties, so in a divorce in the state of California, they are divided equally.
Marital assets are characterized as either community property – an asset acquired during the marriage, separate property – property acquired after the date of separation or prior to the date of marriage, or hybrid property – property that one party may have invested money acquired before the marriage in but that belongs to both spouses and has appreciation value.
Even though California law calls for the equitable division of property, that does not mean that all assets need to be liquidated, it just means that both parties should receive assets of the same value from the community property. If a couple is able to agree on how to divide their property and debts, they may only need a judge to sign off on their agreement and issue a final order. If a divorcing couple is not able to agree on how to divide their assets, they will need the court to assist.