Decisions on property division before a divorce can be daunting to make, especially where there are high-value assets involved. Therefore, any mistake you make may be costly and can affect the divorce process. Likewise, if there is significant debt involved, there should be no chance of an error in valuation and division of property.

According to the Judicial Courts Branch of California, the courts are responsible for dividing any property acquired in marriage, as well as assigning/affirming all property acquired prior to marriage. Therefore, even if you make local arrangements and agree to distribute your assets in a certain way, courts will still have a say and, therefore, will give the final order.

Also, before a court rules on your agreement to divide the property, it remains to be marital property. Similarly, debts continue to be shared so long as a court has not given any directions regarding who should clear which debt.

The California law recognizes two types of property: community (acquired during marriage) and separate (acquired outside of marriage). Community property means any assets you bought together as a couple, while separate property constitutes the assets you purchased before getting married or after your marriage is terminated. Both also include debts that you have incurred all along.

In some instances, you may come across a mixed property that may become hard to divide. Mostly, this happens to spouses who do not have prenuptial agreements and thus cannot define their assets well. In California, the law allows for equal division of property.

Therefore, every partner owns half of the marital property, and each of them has equal rights to it. For separate property, there is no co-ownership unless it gains value in the marriage.