Even if ending your marriage is the correct decision, you can expect your divorce to be one of the sadder things you have encountered in your lifetime. In fact, according to Psych Central, you should plan to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
You probably do not have to worry about being penniless after your divorce becomes final, though. Indeed, California law likely entitles you to an equal share of everything you and your spouse own.
A community property jurisdiction
Divorce is a matter that falls entirely within the jurisdiction of each state, and each state handles property division a bit differently. The Golden State is a community property jurisdiction. This means you and your husband or wife equally own everything in your marital estate and should receive half of your marital wealth.
The difference between marital and separate property
While California’s community property rules apply to marital property, they usually do not apply to separate property. This means you likely can keep anything you separately own without having to split it or its value with your spouse during your divorce.
Marital property is generally anything you and your husband or wife acquired during your marriage. By contrast, separate property is anything you owned before you walked down the aisle. It also usually includes anything you received outside of your marriage, such as a gift someone gave exclusively to you.
The effect of a prenuptial agreement
If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, California’s property division rules also might not apply. That is, assuming the agreement is valid, a court is likely to honor the way you and your spouse agreed to divide property in the event of a divorce.
Ultimately, because property distribution rules can have exceptions, it is important to understand your legal and financial options before filing for divorce.