California law generally defines a person’s separate property as that which was obtained prior to marriage, after the parties separated, or by gift or inheritance; everything else that the parties acquired during marriage is defined as community property. The same logic applies to debts acquired by the spouses. Under California law, each spouse is entitled to one half of the community property, regardless of which spouse earns more or less, and each are also responsible for one half of the community debt. There are many exceptions and presumptions in the law for property, but these are the basic rules.

In Court, the judge is obligated to follow the low when dividing assets and debts. However, in mediation or collaborative practice, the parties are free to come up with other creative solutions which suit their situation better.