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Why can the property division process seem unfair?

Divorce is never something to which one aspires, but sometimes it is needed. No matter how difficult and emotional the process might be, many California couples decide to go through the process in hopes of having a happy and fulfilling life post-divorce. But in order to get from point A to point B, divorcing couples need to tackle several major issues. One of the most challenging of these is the property division. Heated disputes often arise during this phase, causing some spouses to think they will leave the relationship with an unfair share of the marital assets.

Why can the property division process seem unfair? The property division process is so much more than determining who gets what. California is a community property state, which means that marital property is divided equally between spouses. Therefore, everything, including all property, earnings, and debts, are split 50-50 between spouses. But obtaining certain marital property in a divorce can be vital to a spouse. And while all marital property is split in half, this does not always result in a fair resolution.

For example, in most marriages there is only one family home. While a couple might own other homes, such as a vacation home or cabin, a family home can be a very important piece of marital property to hold onto for both financial and sentimental reasons. But the fact of the matter is that only one spouse can keep it. Of course, if it is a major issue, the divorcing couple can sell it and split the proceeds. On the other hand, if one spouse is awarded the house, he or she will have to buy out the other spouse. This can be a costly choice, especially if the spouse that seeks to keep the house may have trouble maintaining the premises and paying property taxes by him or herself.

Much thought must therefore go into the division of marital property, even in community property states. It is never an easy and straightforward process. Thus, divorcing spouses should take the time to fully understand their situation and how best to pursue a legal route that seeks to protect their future and their best interests.

Source:, "What You Need To Know About Property Division: Why What's Fair May Not Be Equitable," June 19, 2017

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