Division of assets can be one of the most contentious components of a divorce. You and your spouse brought different assets into the marriage. Then, you probably pooled some resources to build a comfortable life together. You worked hard to get those nice things, and it can be disheartening to think that the assets that really matter might be carved up in your divorce.

However, not all assets are divided in divorce. Understanding which assets are and are not subject to division can take some of the guesswork out of your preparations for divorce and help you determine how to best focus your energy to reach the outcomes you want.

What counts as property?

The marital house is a popular asset spouses try to acquire during divorce. However, real estate is not the only type of asset that counts as property. Property includes anything of value.

Some other types of property your family may have, include:

  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Pension plans
  • Stocks
  • Cash
  • A business

What kind of property gets divided during a divorce?

Generally, the property that you or your spouse acquired during your marriage will be divided evenly between you and your spouse during divorce. Property that you owned before your marriage will stay with you after your divorce.

Because California is a community property state, you and your spouse became a single legal entity upon marriage. This is why you each are entitled to half of any property acquired during your marriage. However, there are a few exceptions.

Gifts and inheritances that only one spouse received during your marriage count as separate property and will stay with that spouse after divorce. Also, any money you earn from separate property is separate property, as is any property you buy with separate property.

If you are unsure if a particular item is community or separate property, consider the date it was acquired and the source of the money used to acquire it. By understanding which of your assets will be subject for division, you can better determine how you might propose dividing them during your divorce.