When two people divorce, dividing up the community property can become a very touchy issue. Everything that’s owned together in the marriage is considered community property. This includes any money that’s earned by either of them from the beginning date of the marriage regardless of whose account it is in. Also, it can include any property jointly owned that was bought with “community” money such as the home.
Too, the debts incurred together throughout the marriage until the separation date are community debts. This means that each spouse is liable for these kinds of debts such as the home mortgage, joint car loans and joint credit cards; for example. In this line then, it’s very important to close bank accounts to avoid cash issues; any joint accounts and joint credit cards as soon as filing for divorce has been decided upon. Also, just removing the names from the joint accounts doesn’t relieve a spouse from liability either.
However, property which is separately owned is another issue entirely. Anything which is owned separately by a spouse belongs to the spouse whose name it’s in. This would cover any property or belongings which were owned before the marriage. Also, if there was an inheritance or a gift received during the marriage, it belongs to the person it was presented to. Keep in mind too; any monies earned after the date of separation belong to the spouse who earned it.
Sometimes community property can get mixed in with separate property though, and a family law attorney is needed to straighten out the legalities. As an example, a car’s down payment may be made with community money, but the car is owned by only one spouse. Too, if a debt was acquired before the marriage by one spouse, then that debt belongs to that person in the divorce.
Now when there’s no intention on either party’s side to stay together as a husband and wife, then that date is the date of “separation.” This is important because it’s that date that’s used to determine the end of the community property. Proof of moving out of the home or another form of proof may be asked by the court to affirm the final breakup of the marriage though.
In the end, to make sure that assets are divided fairly, it’s always best to have an attorney to help with the legal issues.