Every state has slightly different laws when it comes to property division in a divorce. According to California law, separating couples are permitted to work out an agreement that allows them to divide their property fairly, provided that a judge agrees to the division. If the couple cannot agree, or if the division is unfair, a court may have to divide their property for them. Therefore, it is very important for a divorcing couple to ensure that their property settlement agreement will pass the court’s inspection. The attorneys at Men’s Legal Center can help those who want to create a reasonable property settlement agreement that will conform to California law.
General Guidelines for California Property Division
In California, there does not necessarily have to be a physical division of property in order to make the split equitable. Couples can agree to a division in which one person takes some property and another person takes property of an equal value. For example, this is common when the couple owns a home and one partner wants to keep the property. He or she may offer to sign other property over to the other partner that matches the value of the home’s equity.
Not only is property equitably divided under a California divorce agreement, but debt should be divided as well. If one partner assumes the debt associated with the home, the other partner should assume debts of equal value such as credit card balances or loans. Ultimately, the net difference between assets and liabilities should be roughly equal for both partners.
Once the couple makes these decisions, they must fill out a Form FL-142, Schedule of Assets and Debts. This form is required for any legal separation or divorce in California.
A Special Concern With Debts
It is very important for you to understand that just because your former spouse agrees to pay certain debts, you are still legally liable if she fails to do so. Creditors are not required to honor divorce settlements, so it is important to remove your name from any debts if possible prior to the finalization of your divorce.
There are different rules for pension plans when compared with other property. Form FL-348, Pension Benefits — Attachment to Judgment, gives instructions on these differences, as well as Retirement Plan Joinder — Information Sheet, Form FL-318-INFO. In some cases, one partner’s pension plan must be “joined” in the divorce case and divided by a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order. These situations are complicated, and you may benefit from the help of a divorce attorney in figuring them out.
Contact Men’s Legal Center for help with your property division.