California is a community property state, which means any asset or debt acquired during the course of the marriage belongs equally to both spouses.

If you can come to a simple agreement about who owns what, that will considerably shorten the legal process. But what belongs to you and what belongs to your ex? The answer is not always simple. To answer the question, every divorcing couple first needs to disclose pretty much everything about their financial situation.

What Needs to Be Disclosed

Under California law, both spouses are required to disclose the following:

      Community Assets

      Separate Assets

      Community Debts

      Separate Debts

      Retirement Funds (IRAs, 401Ks, Pensions, Retirement Plans)


If either spouse refuses to disclose any details, the court can enforce disclosure and any subsequent legal fees involved. The court can also enforce disclosure if either party submits inaccurate or incomplete information.

Community Assets vs. Separate Assets

So, what is community property, and what is considered separate property?

In simplest terms, anything you acquired before marriage or after you decided to divorce is considered separate property. But, even separate property must be disclosed. 

What is separate property is not always black and white. For example, if one spouse gives a gift to the other spouse, it is usually considered separate propertylike an expensive piece of jewelry. If one spouse inherits money or real estate during the marriage, that is also usually regarded as separate property.

Beware, however, that the other spouse can claim that certain types of gifts or inheritances are actually community property. Full financial disclosures are required to help figure all this out. 


Any debt acquired during the marriage legally belongs to both spouses. So, even if only one spouse incurred all the debt, that debt is still divided evenly among both spouses.

However, as with assets, there are always exceptions and room to negotiate. Full financial disclosures are required to help figure out how to divide debt as well as assets fairly.

A fair division of assets and debts is almost always more complicated than it first seems. Questions arise that are not always easy to answer, such as:

      How do you divide a mutually owned house in which you both still reside?

      What if there is a dispute about what is separate property?

      What if there is a dispute about the monetary value of an asset?

      How do you unwind commingled assets that were formerly separate assets?

Park Family Law Can Help

To make sure your financial disclosures are complete while preserving your best interest to make the best deal for you, call the attorneys at Park Family Law.

Whether you need an experienced mediator to amicably and efficiently settle your case or an aggressive litigator to get you the best results in court, Park Family Law can assist you every step of the way.