The California property division laws have been subjected to a lot of misinterpretations. For example, many people think that the division is always 50/50. But the law emphasizes on equitability in sharing, which does not always mean splitting everything in the middle.

Basically, these laws are complex and constant access to legal guidance can keep you informed and in control. You may need to negotiate on some issues with your soon-to-be-ex or let the court decide if you fail to agree. Whichever the case, make sure that you hire an attorney from a Fresno family law firm.

How is Property Defined in California?

Property often sounds like real estate and tangible assets. But the legal definition in California is broader and covers a number of items. Property includes anything that has value, such as:

  • A patent
  • A business
  • Life insurance with cash value
  • Stocks
  • 401(k) plans
  • Pension plans
  • Security deposits on apartments
  • Cash and bank accounts

It also includes anything that can be sold or bought, such as:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Cars
  • A house

Notably, the property falls into this definition if the acquisition happened while you and your soon-to-be-ex were married. It doesn’t matter who is or has been using the property; it belongs to you both. But if you are unsure about whether certain assets should be included in the divorce proceedings, consult with a Fresno property division attorney to remove and demystify those doubts.

Does the Decision on Property Division Rely Solely on the Judge?

The divorcing couple doesn’t have to wait on the judge to decide on how they divide property if they can agree amongst themselves. Besides, it can save them a lot of time and help in finalizing the process much faster. But having the agreement without getting the judge to sign off is a bad idea because legally, the property still belongs to the two of you.

It is essential to do things correctly to get the judge’s approval. Try and ensure that you two have filled the appropriate documents, such as the mandatory disclosures, and that your agreement is drafted properly. A Fresno property division lawyer can make sure that there are no errors and that every other requirement is met.

What Normally Happens to the Family House?

First of all, the family home has to be entirely or partly a community property for it to be a subject in the divorce proceedings. That means that it shouldn’t have been acquired by either of you before the marriage, and it shouldn’t be a gift or inheritance. If separate property funds were used to pay the house’s down payment, then the house is partly marital property.

Houses that are entirely community property can be sold, and the net proceeds divided between you two. Where personal property was put into the purchase, the spouse can claim reimbursement on the proceeds of the sale.

Alternatively, the spouse that wants to keep the home can buy out the other spouse’s interest in the property. It is as simple as paying them half the equity in the house and doing some loan modifications to remove them from the mortgage. And the buyout payment doesn’t have to be in cash; another property can be used to offset it.

Once the spouse keeping the family home has done their part, the other spouse is required to sign a deed of transfer. Going forward, the property gets sole ownership of one spouse, and the bought-out partner will cease having a loan hanging on their name.

What About Other Real Property?

Other real properties are usually divided, similar to the family house. However, the property’s ability to generate income is considered in the division decisions. If a community business operates in one of the commercial properties, it would be sensible for one party to keep it and pay the other spouse their share in the business and in the property. But the approach varies from case to case, depending on many other factors.

Land is sometimes treated similar to a family home, unless it can potentially bring in an income. An evaluation has to be done to establish how the income potential affects reasonable division according to California’s property division laws.

Note that divorcing couples can co-own property after divorce, provided there is a clear agreement on how to handle it – especially if it is income-generating. Therefore, you do not have to think hard about buying out the other person or selling all the property to divide the proceeds. Consider discussing your interests with a Fresno property division attorney, and they will tell you more about the options you and your soon-to-be-ex have in California.

How are Trailers, Boats, and Vehicles Divided in a California Divorce?

The division procedure for trailers, boats, motor vehicles, and motorcycles in California begins with a determination of the fair market value. You can hire one evaluator to help you determine the current market value, or each of you can have your own evaluator. Alternatively, you could consider using sites such as or to determine the gross value of those properties.

To get the net value of these properties, the loan obligation ought to be subtracted from the gross proceeds. The remaining amount will thereafter be divided between the divorcing persons. Remember that this cannot be done if the item was inherited or gifted.

A Committed Legal Firm Helping Resolve Family Issues

Property division can get complicated, and you need someone that can champion for a full and fair division. The attorneys at Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian can get you the justice you deserve, by giving personalized attention to your case – and not treat it like just another case number. Beyond property division, we also handle adoption, spousal support, child support, child custody, and divorce.

You can benefit from our legal services if you reside in Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kingsburg, and Hanford counties. Talk to us today on 559-277-7300 to communicate with our friendly staff in English, Spanish, or French.