A Guide to the Division of Marital Assets


When seeking Pasadena divorce help, it's common for couples to have questions about how marital assets are divided. According to California law, items are either separate property or community property. Separate property belongs to the person who received it. Community property is what needs to be divided during the divorce settlement negotiations. Both spouses are entitled to a share of community property, even if there is a large earnings disparity between them or one spouse is a stay-at-home parent.

The first step in the process of dividing property is to determine what is separate property and what is community property. The distinction is not always clear cut. For example, a business might be part separate property and part community property if it was started by one spouse before the marriage, but the other spouse worked at the business and helped invest funds throughout the marriage. Retirement accounts are another common example of an asset that would be part separate property and part community property if the person who had the account worked at the job before and after the marriage took place.

Once it has been determined which items are community property, the next step is assigning a monetary value to each item. This includes property like the marital home as well as items like antiques, jewelry, and collectibles. Assets like retirement accounts will also need to have a value assigned to them, which may require the assistance of a CPA, an actuary, or other financial professional.

After all marital assets have a listed value, they can be divided. There are three options:

  • Assign items to each spouse.
  • Sell the items and divide the proceeds.
  • Allow one spouse to "buy out" the other spouse's share of the asset.

Marital debts are divided in much the same way as marital assets.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of an experienced divorce lawyer, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of divorce law in Pasadena, including the division of marital assets.