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The Cost of Keeping Property in a California Divorce

Divorce can get expensive. Most of us are aware of this fact. There are legal fees, where every step your attorney makes costs you money. Even when these fees are low, you must still pay the court simply to file and finalize your divorce.

What you may not be aware of is the cost of keeping your property. In California, it’s unlikely that you will be able to keep something at no cost to you. In this article, we will explain how California divides property in a divorce, revealing the cost to those who keep their belongings.

How Do You Secure Your Property in a Divorce?

First, let’s discuss the idea of entitlement. In a marriage, there is plenty of property the spouses share. It could be the TV or the coffee maker. Whatever the asset, it’s a part of the home, used by all. When a couple divorces, someone must decide who can keep which asset.

This is where people argue for entitlement. They claim that their contribution to the asset means they deserve to keep it. The one who cleaned and maintained the home, for instance, may have a case to keep that home after the divorce.

States handle entitlement in one of two ways. They use either the equitable or community property system. The equitable system generally gives the property to the most deserving party outright.

California uses the more traditional system, community property division. This process attempts to give each spouse an equal, 50% share of the marital assets.

How Community Property Division Works

The court always strives to make sure each spouse gets half the value of any property. Let’s take a sports car as an example. In this scenario, the husband is the primary user of and contributor to this asset, so he is granted the car. Its current, blue book value is $30,000. Therefore, to keep the car, he owes his spouse at least $15,000.

He can give his wife this amount in a variety of ways. The simplest solution is to directly pay her the $15,000 sum. If that isn’t possible, he can sacrifice more physical property in the divorce, as long as it equals what he owes. When neither option works, he may be forced to sell the car and split the profits equally with his spouse.

Avoiding the Expense of Dividing Property

Fortunately, you are not forced to go through the courts to have a divorce. You may reach any agreement you wish with your spouse, submit those agreements to the court, and move on. If you need a little help doing so, consider mediation.

In mediation, a legal professional works for both spouses. Their main goal is to help spouses negotiate all necessary decisions. They have special psychological training that can keep both parties receptive and communicative.

Through mediation, you may be able to keep what is rightfully yours without splitting it with your spouse, and vice versa. Moreover, you will save plenty of money on legal fees. You must pay for your time with the mediator, and then you pay for any necessary court fees. Afterward, you are clear to move on and rebuild your life.

If you’re concerned about keeping your property in a divorce, reach out to our firm for help. We can evaluate your case and offer suggestions for what you should do next. You can contact us online or call us at (951) 779-1610.