A California divorce enables married partners to separate their lives in both tangible and intangible ways. The divorce process severs the marital relationship between the married people and allows them to exist as single individuals. It also facilitates the division of their property and assets into sets that may be taken by each and owned individually.
Like many other states in this country, California follows a form of property law that recognizes community property. Community property is property that is held by both partners to a marriage. Most property owned by married people is community property, but property that is gifted to or inherited by only one spouse or that the partners agree should be owned by only one person is considered individual property.
During the process of a divorce-related property division, assets are classified as individual or community property. If a person desires to protect an asset that is solely owned by him through an acquisition like gifting or inheritance, then the other spouse may not have a claim to that particular item or asset. If it is classified as community property then the individual may have a more challenging fight on his hands.
Many factors are considered by a court when it accepts and signs into an order a divorcing couple's property settlement agreement. A court may not approve an agreement that heavily benefits one individual over the other unless doing so would balance the post-divorce equanimity of the splitting partners. It may interject its own changes to a property settlement agreement if doing so would protect the interests of one or both of the individuals.
An individual's property interests, a detailed asset valuation of a couple's property and wealth, as well as many other considerations must be factored into a property settlement agreement. Marital assets in California are generally considered community property, but even so there are ways that one partner may be able to protect certain items.