Who Gets the House in a California Divorce?

Who Gets the House in a California Divorce?

When a couple divorces in California, they’ll have to split all of the different property and assets that they collected throughout their marriage. This often leads to disagreements, conflicts, and confusion as spouses fight for the property they believe they should keep. One matter that is especially contentious in California divorces is the division of the family home.

If you’re going through a divorce and are worried about who is going to get your family home, here’s what you need to know about California law and how the property division process will go.

How Does California Split Property in a Divorce?

Every state has different guidelines in place for how property is divided when a couple decides to divorce. In California, the state follows community property laws. This means that all belongings, property, and other assets that a couple accrued during their marriage are considered to be community property. Community property, otherwise known as marital property in California, is equally owned by both spouses and must be divided as equally as possible if the couple divorces. The longer your marriage, the more communal assets you’re likely to acquire and have to split equally if a divorce occurs.

What Spouse Gets the Family Home in a California Divorce?

According to the state’s community property laws, if a family home is purchased by both spouses during their marriage, it is considered communal. This means each spouse owns 50% of the family home, and it must be split fairly between them. However, it’s not quite possible to split a home into two equal parts. Because of this, there are a few different routes a separating couple may take when trying to determine what will happen to the family home:

  • A Spousal BuyoutIf you’re looking to keep the family home, one possible option for you may be buying out your spouse’s share. Because your spouse technically owns 50% of the home, you’ll have to pay them fairly for their share of the home to keep it. This is often done through refinancing a mortgage.
  • Sell the House and Divide the ProfitIn some cases, it’s not possible for either spouse to keep the family home. This can occur when neither spouse can afford the home on their own or it just makes the most sense to sell. When this happens, the most beneficial option for both parties includes selling the home and splitting the profit fairly between each other. This allows both of you to receive an equal amount from your home that you can put toward a new living space.
  • Deferred SaleSometimes, spouses or the court will decide that the best option for both parties is to continue co-owning the home until they decide what the next step is. This situation often occurs when there are children involved who could benefit from the stability of not having to move during a divorce. When a deferred sale is allowed, both spouses will go on to co-own the home after their divorce is finalized. This will continue as long as the judge decides or spouses agree to do so.

How the Length of Your Marriage Affects Property Division

Many individuals find themselves wondering if the length of their marriage has any effect on whether or not their spouse gets to receive half of the property. Because California uses community property law, the length of the marriage has no effect on what each spouse is entitled to. This means that no matter how long a marriage is, whether it’s for six months or six years, both spouses are entitled to 50% of the property they collected during that marriage. If your marriage is brief, it’s most likely you’ll have fewer assets to divide than in marriages of longer duration.


Q: Does the Parent With Primary Custody Always Get the House in California?

No, the family home does not automatically go to the custodial parent in a divorce. While it is common for the custodial parent to receive the family home through deferred sale agreements, sometimes the family home ends up being sold completely or one spouse opts to buy it from the other.

Q: Do You Need a Lawyer for Property Division in Pasadena, California?

No matter how much marital property you may have, it’s in your best interest to find an experienced attorney who can assist you through your divorce. A Pasadena divorce attorney can not only help you identify, value, and document your assets, but they can fight to make sure you get what you’re entitled to.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Separate and Marital Property?

Marital property, also known as community property, is the property that spouses collected while they were married. Separate property, however, is a property that is owned individually by one spouse and not the other. If a couple divorces, only marital property is required to be split evenly between them. The other spouse is not entitled to the separate property of their partner.

Q: Does It Matter Who Filed for Divorce First When Dividing Property in California?

Because California is a “no-fault” divorce state, a spouse filing for divorce first has no effect on the outcome of their overall situation. Spouses do not have to prove that the other party did something wrong in order to divorce, so there is no upper hand given to the party that does end up filing first.

Q: Is Everything Split 50/50 in a California Divorce?

While community property laws state that both spouses equally own their marital property and that it must be split evenly, it’s not always possible to equally divide an estate 50/50. This means that the court will work to create as fair of a split for both parties as possible when you divorce.

Your Pasadena Divorce Attorneys

At Khalaf Law Group, we have spent years representing clients and their rights throughout complicated divorces. Whether you’re worried about losing your family home or you need assistance with the property division process, don’t wait to find out how our team may be able to assist you. For more information on our law firm and our different services, contact us today to learn more.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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