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Don't believe these 3 property division myths

Dividing assets can be the most complicated and contentious part of a divorce. Not only are there logistical challenges associated with collecting all the information on debts and marital assets, but emotions like anger, bitterness and fear can be running high, making it difficult to see things objectively.

Under these circumstances, it can be easy to believe certain things that are not true about the property division process in California. Below, we examine and clear up three common myths that people have about this process in an effort to help you more accurately assess your situation.

Myth #1: My ex can take everything

This is not true because California is a community property state. This means that in the eyes of the law, all assets, income and property accumulated during a marriage belongs to the community, or the married couple. Therefore, in the event of a divorce, each person has equal ownership of the estate, leaving each person with half of everything.

Myth #2: We don't have any property to divide

While you may not have multiple properties or millions of dollars in the bank, you will very likely have property to divide. Think about your cars, retirement savings, marital home, bank accounts and debt. Pets, wedding china, furniture and computers also have value that must be divided. Even though your marital assets may be modest, you still must go through the legal process to divide them.

Myth #3: We can just split everything down the middle

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. In reality, there will likely be a lot of negotiation and compromise when it comes to figuring out the logistics of dividing assets. For instance, if one person keeps the home, the other might ask for more cash. Further, complex assets like business interests cannot typically be divided in half, so more work is needed to ensure a settlement is fair and roughly equal. 

These and other myths can lead people to make some costly mistakes when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce. To avoid these missteps and ensure you get the fair settlement you deserve, it would be wise to consult an attorney before you agree to any negotiation or settlement.

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