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Division of Property & Debts

T he Family Code defines what is community property (Family Code Section 760, et. seq.,) and separate property (Family Code Section 770 et. seq.). Generally speaking, “community property” consists of all property acquired by a married person during the marriage. “Separate property” is property acquired by a married person before marriage, after date of separation, or by gift, bequest, devise or descent.

In most cases, the court will divide the community estate equally (Family Code Section 2550). This will include community property and quasi-community property. This rule applies in a dissolution action or an action for a judgment of legal separation.

In most cases, the court will generally divide the debts of the community equally. (Family Code Section 2620).

Every person’s case is different so there may be exceptions to these general rules. It is important to consult with a qualified lawyer on these issues.

In order for the court to know what the assets and debts of the marriage are, the marital partners must fill out forms called an Income & Expense Declaration and Schedule of Assets & Debts. These forms can be found on the website of the Administrative Office of the Courts: www.courts.ca.gov/formsrules under the drop down menu “Family Law – Dissolution, Legal Separation and Annulment”.

There are specific rules that have to be followed in preparing these forms.