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2024 Who Gets the House in a Divorce in California?

Divorces are disruptive, regardless of how amicably the marriage ends. One of the first questions you may have is whether your divorce will uproot you from your home and leave you scrambling to find a place to live. Understanding who gets the house in a divorce in California can help you prepare, regardless of whether you are the one initiating the divorce or have been served divorce papers. When in doubt, a California divorce lawyer can provide you with guidance and support.

How Are Assets and Property Divided in a Divorce?

The first question when dividing assets and property in a divorce is which things are community property and which are separate. Community property generally refers to:

  • Assets and property acquired during the marriage and before the separation.
  • Items purchased with money earned during the marriage.
  • Debts and loans acquired during the marriage and before the separation.

Separate property usually includes assets, debts, and other items acquired before the marriage, purchased with income made before the marriage, or things that are part of an inheritance. As per California divorce laws, you will be allowed to keep your separate property after the divorce and equally split community property. Note that there may be exceptions if you signed a prenuptial agreement.

Is a Home Considered Community or Separate Property?

A house could either be community or separate property, depending on the circumstances of the purchase. If, for example, one spouse used their earnings from before the marriage to buy the house outright, then the house is their separate property. If, however, they bought it with earnings from during the marriage, it will be community property. If the house was one partner’s inheritance, it will be considered separate property regardless of when they acquired it.

A house could also be viewed as partially community property and partially separate. If, for example, one spouse used inheritance money to place the down payment, that portion would be their separate property. If they then paid down payments using income earned during the marriage, those payments on the house would be community property.

What Does a 50/50 Split Look Like With a House?

Obviously, you cannot physically divide a house 50/50 between two partners, so equally splitting a home can be complex. There are a few ways this division may play out.

  1. Immediate Sale: A couple may decide to immediately sell the house and split the profits from the sale. Similarly, if there were debts accrued as community property, both partners would equally split the amount owed.
  2. Delayed Sale: A couple may choose to sell the house but wait until a later time. This is particularly likely if there are children involved whom the parents do not wish to uproot any more than necessary. The house can be sold, and the profits/debts can be split at a later time.
  3. Buying Out the Home: One partner may choose to pay their spouse their share of the 50/50 split and essentially purchase the house from their partner. The house would then need to be put into their name and belong entirely to them.

What Happens If a Couple Disagrees About the Division of the House?

If a couple is unable to decide how to go about splitting assets, property, or debts, including their house, then it may be necessary for a court to determine what those divisions look like. If a couple is able to work with their attorneys and negotiate, however, this can lead to a more favorable outcome for all involved. Having a seasoned and supportive attorney is especially vital if your spouse is unwilling to negotiate or is using sneaky divorce tactics against you.


Q: Who Gets to Stay in the House During a Divorce in California?

A: Who gets to stay in the house during a divorce will depend on whether the house is community property or separate property. If, for example, your spouse bought the home before you married, the paperwork is entirely in their name, and you did not contribute to the house in any way, then they may be allowed to stay in the house. If it is community property, however, then both of you have a right to stay in the house during your divorce.

Q: How Is a House Divided in a Divorce in California?

A: How a house is divided in a divorce in California will depend on when the home was acquired and whether it is considered community or separate property. If it is separate property, the house will go to the individual who bought it. If it is community property, then how the house is divided may be negotiated, much like many other aspects of divorce. No two divorces are exactly the same, so neither is the division of property.

Q: Can I Move Out of My House Before the Completion of my Divorce?

A: Yes, you could move out of your house before the completion of your divorce. If your house is community property, neither you nor your partner should be required to move out of the house before the completion of your divorce, but you do have the freedom to move out. This should not jeopardize your rights to the house. If living under the same roof as your partner is too difficult or strenuous, moving out may be the better option.

Q: Can a Spouse Kick You Out of the House in California?

A: If your house is community property, then your spouse cannot kick you out of the house. There may be exceptions to this rule in the case of abuse, however. If your spouse successfully gets an ex parte order against you, they may be able to kick you out of the house even if it is community property. If the house is separate property belonging to your spouse, then they likely do have the ability to kick you out of the house.

Getting in Touch With a Divorce Lawyer

If you are in the midst of a divorce or considering filing for one, it is important to understand your rights, your spouse’s rights, and the implications of your divorce. If you are worried about your housing situation during the divorce or concerned that your spouse may try to take more than their fair share when dividing assets, speaking with a California divorce lawyer can provide you with greater confidence and peace of mind. Contact the legal team at All American Law today.

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