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Are debts divided differently from property?

As we discussed earlier, California is a community property state. This means that all property obtained during a marriage is considered jointly owned, with some exceptions. In community property states, the property is divided as close to equally as possible. But what about debt?

FindLaw states that debt division is handled differently than property division. While assets are divided with equality being the focal point, the division of debt is determined by what is more equitable. This means that the debt division itself might not necessarily be an equal split down the middle. Instead, it will be divided based on what the courts deem “fair”.

So what is fair, then? This depends on a number of factors. Was the debt in question incurred on an individual account or a joint account? Have either you or your spouse been largely responsible for paying off credit card bills? Does either party lay personal claim to the property or items that the debt was incurred for?

It is also important to note that in a community property state like California, individual debts from one spouse could possibly appear on the account of another. This can add another layer of complexity to the matter.

You may want to contact a divorce attorney for help if you are dealing with debts after divorce in California. The intent of equitable debt division is to be fair to all parties, but courts can and do make unfair choices. It can help having a professional there who knows what to do for you.