Property division is very tricky. It is a complex area of law, especially when dealing with the rightful ownership of assets. You have either marital property, which you both own, or separate property, which only one of you owns. In some cases, you may also have commingling of separate and marital property, which only further complicates how to divide it.
The California Courts explains that this is a community property state, which means that everything you own is marital property unless it meets the rules for exceptions. Exceptions include property you had before your marriage and some inheritances and gifts. However, separate property can become marital property through commingling.
Commingling is when separate property and marital property combine. This could be using separate property to buy marital property or putting separate property into a marital bank account. A good example is if you bought a house with money you had prior to the marriage, but then, once you marry, you use money you both earn to make the house payments. Once you commingle property, it becomes very complicated to separate it out and divide it during a divorce.
While it may be easy to keep some assets separate, it is much easier to commingle your property. You may not be able to avoid commingling in many situations. This is why you will need to do a complete review of your assets. You will also need good records so you can carefully extract separate property from community property. It can take quite a bit of time, especially if you had a long marriage and many assets to figure out.