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Considering divorce? Remember community property guidelines

If you're ready to get a divorce, the first thing you should know about are the laws in California. Unlike many states, California is a community property state. What that means is that any marital property is split equally among you and your spouse, not equitably.

This could be good for some people and bad for others. Remember, even if you put very little into the relationship financially, you'd be entitled to half of all marital property. That's not a bad deal for someone who didn't work or who relied on the other party's support.

On the other hand, if you're the one who spent more, worked and provided for your spouse, then you might feel it's unfair. Community property states make you separate your property equally, which would mean that you wouldn't get your fair share based on what you spent on your marriage or the assets you own.

Do you have to use California's community property rules?

There may be a chance for you to get away without having to take an equal share of the property. If you want more, and even if you feel you deserve less, you and your spouse can work out an arrangement on your own. For individuals who face losing a great deal based on their input into the relationship, having a settlement outside court that grants you a larger amount of property is great. However, for those who could gain more by going by the state's guidelines, choosing community property division is a better option.

How do you convince someone to take less than they would otherwise be awarded?

There could be a few ways to do so. For instance, if your spouse is sentimentally attached to one asset that you'd have an equal right to, you could negotiate an uneven trade for it. Sentimental value can make some items worth more than their true value to that person, giving you some leverage over the situation.

You could also try to leverage more property based on your children's needs or your specialized needs. Some people play on their spouse's good nature to get their fair share, especially when a spouse knows that they did not provide as much money or as many assets to the property being divided.

On the whole, people can usually come to fair agreements on their own. If not, then community property guidelines will take effect when the case goes to court.

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