It is important to know what system your state uses to divide up at the time of your divorce action. California is a “community property” state, so the law recognizes your property acquired as a married couple as separate from your property acquired before the marriage. This means your property acquired prior to your marriage is not up for division at the time of divorce. The community property is then divided equally according to the total fair market value of all your assets and obligations.
In general, all property that a spouse acquires during marriage and before separation is community property. Typically, it is not hard to decipher whether a certain asset is community or separate property. Yet, there are certain kinds of assets that can create problems in this respect, including a business that one spouse owned prior to the marriage but both spouses worked on during the marriage, or property that belonged to one spouse before the marriage but was shared during the marriage.