During your divorce, you probably know that the state requires an equal split of your assets. This applies only if you can’t agree on a different arrangement, since the state is a community property state. 

In most cases, people who can’t agree do end up splitting assets equally, but assets aren’t all there is to divide. There are also debts, which could be of a significant amount.

One thing that shocks some people is that California laws ask you to divide assets and debts equally. While that can be good for one person, it’s a double-edged blade. If one partner racks up high amounts of debt, then they could get out of paying back a portion of it while the other person now has to pay back debt they didn’t create. Similarly, if someone contributes many assets to a marriage, they may walk away with less than they contributed.

If you think this is unfair, you’re not the only one. If you and your spouse can make a different agreement outside court, it’s possible that you could change your property division agreement to one that is not equal but instead equitable. Most people want to be fair during their divorces, and they know that splitting up debts that their spouse didn’t know about or that was for their own benefit would be unfair. Similarly, those who know they didn’t contribute as much may not feel it’s fair to take half of what they own together.

Your situation is unique, so it’s a good idea for each of you to speak with an attorney about your options. You should be able to work out a settlement before you approach the court over your divorce.