Because California law considers both spouses to be one party rather than two, marital assets and obligations are divided 50/50 unless the pair mutually agree on another arrangement. If they can't reach an agreement, a judge will make the call as to what division of property is fair.
The majority of marriages that end in divorce go through a separation first. During this period, neither spouse has access to money or assets that would be considered marital property. Separate funds are kept for each person during this time. When the marriage does eventually end, the parties may choose to keep their separate finances separate or combine them into one new financial unit.
Marital property includes any income generated from either spouse's employment, savings, rental properties, and other investments. These items are split between the two partners according to what type of property it is: real estate, personal property, or intangible assets (such as retirement accounts).
Community property is found in states where it is not necessary for both spouses to join in order to form a marital community. The term "community" means that the couple shares ownership of whatever property is involved and any earnings or gains it generates. For example, if one spouse invests $10,000 in a partnership business and it becomes successful, its value would be shared by the couple.
Because California is a "community property" state, all marital property will be split 50-50 by the court unless the divorced couples agree differently. This means that anything in the divorce that is regarded "up for grabs" will be given equally to each spouse. For example, if one spouse earns more money after the marriage then they will get more of the marital property than their spouse. If one spouse has a large inheritance or purchase price from their family then it too will be divided between the two.
In California, as well as other community property states, everything you have acquired during your marriage is considered marital property, including any income earned from it. The most important thing to remember is that once you and your spouse enter into an agreement about what portion of your income should go toward marital property versus separate property, then that decision becomes the law of the case. If you later decide that you want to change the division of property, then you can file for a modification of the original decree.
The fact that California is a community property state does not mean that you cannot keep your finances separate. In fact, according to research conducted by my firm, nearly half of all married Californians keep their finances together even though they are under the same roof 24 hours a day.
If you choose to stay married but still divide your finances evenly, then you are exercising true equality between you and your spouse.
When it comes to divorce or legal separation, California is a "no-fault" state. It makes no difference whether you're filing for divorce because your husband cheated on you or because you just don't get along any longer. If you decide to file for divorce, you will both go through a process where you state your reasons for the split and allow the court to decide if the marriage should be dissolved.
The decision of who will represent the family in court depends on who is paying for the divorce. If you are awarded sole physical custody of the children, then you would not be allowed to have him or her represented by an attorney. If you are awarded joint physical custody, then either party can hire an attorney to help them with the proceedings.
People often ask themselves what kind of impact does it make if one parent hires an attorney while the other doesn't? The reason that this affects how the case is handled in court has much to do with the fact that there are procedures that must be followed in order for a judgment to be final. For example, during a divorce proceeding, the judge will usually require the losing party to pay any amount of money that they owe their opponent. In addition, most courts will not grant a divorce unless there is some kind of settlement agreement or consent decree signed by the parties. If one party refuses to agree to these terms, then the other side is entitled to a divorce judgment.