When a married couple in California or anywhere else gets a divorce, marital property is divided according to state law. If a marital home needs to be divided, the couple could sell it and divide the proceeds. If the home is sold at a loss, it may then be necessary to determine who is responsible for paying the rest of the mortgage.
If one person wants to stay in the home, they can buy the other out and get the home in their own name. The same scenario may play out if a couple owns a car together. When it comes to dividing furniture or other household items, it might be best for a spouse to only choose certain items that he or she cannot live without. Other items may be donated or sold at a fair market value.
Dividing retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or IRA may be complicated because of the tax issues associated with doing so. However, it is possible to get a court order to divide assets within a 401(k) without creating a taxable event. To divide an IRA, funds must be transferred pursuant to a divorce agreement. Funds can be transferred to an existing account or new account.
Those who are going through the divorce process might benefit by speaking to an attorney. Doing so could make it easier to learn more about the property division process and how to place a fair value on items. An attorney can find appraisers or other outside professionals who might be able to help divide retirement accounts or intangible assets. This may benefit those going through divorces involving significant assets, such as a business or art collection.