Overlooking Marital Debts In California Divorce : Understanding Community Property Laws : Santa Clarita Divorce

California Divorce Community property laws

Overlooking Marital Debts in California: Understanding Community Property Laws

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When it comes to divorce settlements in California, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the division of marital debts. Under California’s Community Property laws, both spouses are generally responsible for debts incurred during the marriage. In this blog, we will explore the importance of addressing the division of debts in your settlement and the options available to you.

Understanding Community Property Laws

In California, community property laws state that both spouses hold equal ownership of assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. This means that debts accumulated during the marriage are considered joint liabilities, regardless of which spouse incurred them.

Separating Assets and Debts

It is not uncommon for couples to have separate assets and debts, even in long-term marriages. Some couples choose to keep their finances separate by maintaining individual credit cards, separate incomes, and contributing to expenses based on their respective incomes. While this may seem like a clear separation of assets and debts, it is important to remember that, legally, all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered community property.

However, if both spouses agree to keep their individual assets and debts separate, the court will generally respect their wishes. This means that if you and your spouse choose to keep 100% of your own assets and debts, the court will not interfere.

Considerations for Dividing Debts

When dividing debts, it is essential to consider various factors, such as the nature of the debt and who benefited from it. For example, if one spouse incurred a significant debt for personal expenses, such as vacations or outings with friends, they may argue that it should be their sole responsibility. While the court may not automatically assign half of the debt to the other spouse, it is crucial to remember that debts incurred during the marriage are still considered community property.


Q: Do we have to list all our debts in the settlement?

A: While it may be tempting to exclude certain debts, it is highly recommended to disclose all debts in your settlement. Failing to do so may result in complications down the line, as the court expects full transparency and fairness in the division of assets and liabilities.

Q: Can we keep our individual debts separate?

A: Yes, you can choose to keep your individual debts separate, even if they are technically considered community property. As long as both spouses agree to the separation of assets and debts, the court will not interfere.

Q: What factors are considered when dividing debts?

A: When dividing debts, the court will consider various factors, including the nature of the debt and who benefited from it. While the court may not assign equal responsibility for all debts, it will strive to achieve a fair division based on the circumstances of the marriage.


Divorce settlements can be complex, especially when it comes to the division of assets and debts. Understanding California’s Community Property laws is crucial to ensure a fair and equitable division of marital debts. By addressing the division of debts in your settlement and considering the unique circumstances of your marriage, you can navigate this process with confidence and clarity.

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