While marital assets and marital debts are divided in half in community property states like California, this does not necessarily mean you will get half of every single asset or be held responsible for half of every single debt. That’s because there are two kinds of property::
- Marital property is all property that either spouse acquired during the marriage and all debts that either spouse acquired together during the marriage. If you made money or acquired an asset or incurred a debt after saying I Do and before legally separating, it is marital property regardless of who actually took on the debt or bought the asset.
- Separate property is property and debt that each spouse brought into the marriage and didn’t co-mingle or mix with marital assets. Gifts or inheritances given to just one spouse during the marriage can also be considered separate property.
Property and debt that are acquired between the date of the marriage and the date when you officially separated are considered to be community property in California. The date of separation is the date when either spouse let the other know, by actions or words, that they wanted the marriage to end.
There are different rules for student loans, though. If one spouse acquired student loans during the marriage, that is usually treated as a separate debt. Almost all other assets and debts are considered to belong to the community, though. This can include debts you may not have known about that your spouse took out in their name only, but also assets like pension or retirement plans that one person paid into at work.