Circumstances that can support unequal property division
Under California community property laws, all property acquired during a marriage generally belong equally to both parties. The same treatment applies to debts either spouse acquired during a marriage.
Thus, in a divorce, spouses can typically expect to exit the union with 50 percent of the marital assets and debts. However, there are situations when parties might have an unequal division of assets.
Parties agree to an unequal settlement
In some divorces, parties are able to willing to work out the financial details of their split themselves outside of court.
Such an approach could work well for people who are divorcing amicably and those who prefer the confidentiality of litigation alternatives like mediation.
Divorcing spouses may agree to an unequal division of property if:
- A party feels guilty about marital misconduct and will compensate the other party
- One person is very ill and requires expensive medical care and treatments
- Parties agree that equal division is not fair
- One or both parties has significant separate assets
Under these and similar circumstances, people might agree that unequal division of assets or debts is appropriate.
There is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
Another reason parties might not divide property equally is if they have a legal agreement binding them to a different arrangement.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement allows parties to consensually categorize or divide property or debts in a way other than what the state community property laws dictate. Again, there are many reasons why spouses might choose to do this at the time, but in any case, a binding agreement can support unequal division upon divorce.
Finding the right solution for your case
Whatever the outcome of your divorce is, it should be fair, whether that means the court divides everything equally or you negotiate an alternative settlement in mediation.
Property division settlements are different for every case. And while California laws provide the framework for the outcome, individuals can work with attorneys, financial professionals and each other to craft a divorce settlement appropriate for their specific case.