Q: If my spouse and I have more than one bank account, will a court require that we split each bank account down the middle?
A: When you file for divorce, since California is a community property state, the court will attempt to divide your property equally. However, this doesn’t mean that everything you and your spouse own simply will be divided down the middle. Instead, it will be important to make sure that each spouse gets an approximately equal net share of the assets. As such, your property settlement can mean that one spouse acquires two bank accounts and the other spouse acquires just one of the three bank accounts.
How would this work? For example, if a couple has three bank accounts that contain unequal amounts, it may be that the first two bank accounts together have the same amount of funds as the third account. In short, a property settlement won’t include the splitting of each asset. Instead, it will work to ensure that each spouse obtains an equal value of the community property.
Q: My spouse and I have community property that contains both assets and debts. Will our debts be split equally?
A: When the court divides your property—including both your assets and your debt—it will look to make sure that both spouses get an equal amount of property in the settlement. As such, the court will add up the market value of your assets and then subtract the total amount of your debt. In order to split the remainder equally between the divorcing spouses, the court can even out the assets a spouse receives by also assigning a particular debt to that spouse. For example, if one spouse receives a bank account with significant funds in the settlement, the court can also assign a larger credit card debt to that spouse in order to even out the settlement.
Q: My spouse and I came to an agreement about our community property and both signed a written agreement. In that settlement, my spouse received our credit card debt. However, the credit card company won’t honor our written agreement and continues to seek payment for that debt from me. How can I show the creditor that the debt now belongs to my husband as a result of our property settlement?
A: Even when spouses agree to a property settlement specifying that one spouse will take over the couple’s credit card debt, a credit card company doesn’t necessarily have to honor your agreement. Instead, it’s important to discuss your property settlement with an experienced San Diego divorce lawyer. Rather than simply assigning credit card debt to one of the spouses, a divorce attorney can discuss other options with you. For instance, the spouse who has been assigned the joint credit card debt can do a balance transfer to a credit card that is only in her or his name.