How to reach an agreement on property division during a divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2018 | Division of Property, Divorce & Legal Separation |

The decision to get a divorce is usually not easy. You pledged to spend your life together, and now you must decide who gets the TV and the treadmill. Worrying about who gets what may seem trivial when you are going through such an emotionally traumatic experience.

However, dividing assets can be one of the most contentious processes during a divorce. You might feel like you are entitled to a large spousal support payment, or your soon-to-be ex may decide he or she wants the house. Stuff can be a lot more than just stuff when you are going through a divorce.

Reaching an agreement about property division does not have to be drawn-out, painful process. There are certain steps you can take to make the discussions move more smoothly.

How does California divide marital property?

First, it is good to know about California property division. California is a community property state. That means all assets acquired during a marriage are jointly owned and considered a part of the community property. Anything that is acquired as gift or as part of an inheritance is excluded from the community property designation. Likewise, assets owned by one party before the marriage are not considered part of community property. There are some other exceptions as well.

When couples divorce, the community property is divided equally between the former partners. Everything is not split down the middle, but rather, the assets are divided in an equitable manner.

Explain why you want certain things and be reasonable

If you want the division of assets to go well, you should try to be reasonable with your requests. Do not ask for a ridiculously, large amount of spousal support and then refuse to negotiate. Have a number in mind, and then have a list of reasons why you think you need that amount. This will show you have thought about what you need, rather than what you want.

Your former spouse may have a favorite painting or vehicle. If you can give it to him or her without being unfair to yourself, do it. It will show you are trying to be fair and reasonable.

Show some empathy toward your former spouse

Remember that your soon-to-be ex has feelings too, even if he or she is not expressing these emotions. Going through a divorce is hard on both parties. Listening to what your spouse wants may make him or her more willing to listen to what you want. Then it will be easier to reach a compromise.

Try not to react emotionally

Even though going through a divorce is an emotional time, try to react to your former partner in an angry, emotional way. You may say something you regret, and your former partner may try to retaliate. This certainly does not put you in a place to negotiate easily.

Disclose all your assets

Trying to hide assets will not end well. Your former partner’s attorney or the court will likely discover your assets. When they do, it will show you are untrustworthy, and it will not ease your soon-to-be ex’s feelings of anger and hurt. More likely, your former spouse may try to take revenge by asking for more money, and he or she just might get it.

Do not think of it as a win/lose scenario

Too many people going through a divorce think they want to “win.” Though it should be obvious, there really is no winning in a divorce.

Stop thinking your soon-to-be ex is taking things from you. In reality, you both may have to give up things you want. Whenever you can, try to make the property division process positive for both parties.

The sooner you reach an agreement, the sooner you can finalize the divorce and move forward in your life.