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Know your property rights when you go through divorce

It is important to understand, whether you're married or going through divorce, what is considered to be marital property. Marital property is property that you purchase or obtain during your marriage. It can also be property owned before marriage that is mixed into the marriage's assets.

For instance, if you have an inheritance, it's separate property. If you mix that money in with your normal shared bank account, it may become marital property.

In a community property state like California, all marital property is split equally if you divorce. Unlike common law property states, that means that there isn't an equitable distribution. You'll be entitled to half of your marital assets whether you've contributed 30 percent or 100 percent of them to the marriage.

Can you divide assets in a way other than half and half upon divorce?

Yes, but only if your spouse agrees. That's difficult in a community property state since a spouse who is entitled to 50 percent of the assets is unlikely to want to give up more for the other person's benefit, even if it's fair. However, there are times when negotiations could work out in your favor, which is why it's a good idea to consider working with an attorney and to negotiate for the fair distribution of your assets upon divorce.

Our website has more information on community property states and what you should expect if you have marital property to divide in a divorce. With the right help, you can protect yourself and the assets you brought into your marriage against division.

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