When you seek a divorce in our state, you must go through is the California property division process. This is the process in which your property and debts are divided, and the family law judge gives you a formal divorce resolution order.
The judge has the final say
Regardless of whatever agreements you have with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, the family law judge will need to sign off on the agreement. Even prenuptial and postnuptial agreements drafted by an attorney must be approved by the family law judge.
What property counts?
Anything of value qualifies as property, which means if it can be purchased, sold or appraised, it is property that could be divided.
Common examples include tangible property, like your family home and car, and intangible property, like stocks, bonds, NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
Which property is divided?
Until you have a formal court order, you could potentially be on the hook for all the debts and be entitled to all marriage property.
Property is divided into two categories in California: separate and community property. It is only community property that is divided in the property division process.
Community versus separate property
Community property is all the property and debts accumulated from the time of the marriage. Separate property is everything else owned individually by the couple that they brought into the marriage, including inheritance only given to one spouse.
If there is comingling of funds, separate property could become community property, subject to a split in the property division process.
Consult an expert
Especially for high-net-worth divorces, you may need to consult with an expert and family law attorney prior to initiating divorce proceedings. These experts can help you understand what will be divided and the potential split within the property division process.
This can help give you a realistic outlook on your future and help avoid unfounded expectations that often lead to unneeded litigation and the resulting expenses that come with litigation.