Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law
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Let Us Help You. Call Today. 805-232-5808

Who gets what: Property division in California

When it comes to divorce, there is no shortage of uncertainty. This is particularly true in regard to the division of property. Who gets what property during divorce proceedings can have an enormous impact on a person's life after the divorce is finalized. That is why it is always a good idea to have an idea of how property division is decided in California.

There are different ways to go about determining how property will be divided. Some couples will decide on their own, without the help of a court or judge. Other couples will not be able to make these types of decisions without a legal authority making a judgment. Regardless, a few things have to happen.

Marital vs. Separate Property

Before property can be divided, it will have to be decided what type of property it actually is. The state of California recognizes two distinct types of property; Marital and separate.

· Marital Property

Any property/assets/debts that a couple accumulates over the course of their marriage are generally considered to be marital property. This means that both parties have a say in how that property is treated/divided.

· Separate Property

Essentially, any property that one party had prior to the marriage is considered separate property. It should be noted that and property that is acquired as a gift or as inheritance is also generally considered to be separate property, as it anything that a party acquired by trading or selling gifts/inheritances. It is also worth noting that any property acquired after separation, but before the divorce is finalized is usually considered to be separate property as well.

If a couple is able to determine how they would like to divide their property without the assistance of a court or judge, they will definitely have more control over the process. If, however, they are unable to come to any conclusions on their own, a court will do it for them. Before property is divided, it will have to be valued.


The value of property is generally decided by the couple. If they cannot come to any definite conclusions, the court may assign a value to their property on their behalf. Some couples will obtain the services of a third party agent to do this for them. Ideally, the couple would both agree on an agent.

The process of dividing property can be a difficult and stressful one. Although couples may want to take care of all of these matters on their own, it is often recommended that they seek out the services of a legal professional who can ensure that their best interest are being given priority.

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Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law