No two divorces are exactly the same. When it comes to property division in divorce, however, California shares similarities to eight other states that govern the process under community property laws. This essentially means that all marital property (which includes assets and debt) is split 50/50 between spouses in divorce.
This can have a major impact on post-divorce finances. For instance, if spouses have been sharing all earnings in a two-income household, each spouse is going to walk away with approximately half of the accustomed income. When half of all debt is factored into the equation, it can make for some serious financial challenges when adapting to a post-divorce lifestyle.
If there's an existing court order aside from property division, such as mandated child support or alimony, lack of adherence to the court order may negatively affect either one of the party's financial situation following the dissolution of marriage. Also, financial stability may hinge on what happens to the house a couple shared during their marriage. If refinancing the home is necessary, that can also throw a wrench into a prospective financial plan.
The court has the ultimate decision-making authority in all issues concerning property division in a California divorce. Many problems can be avoided if legal clarity is sought ahead of time. This is why many spouses request meetings with experienced family law attorneys before heading to court. An attorney can advise a client as to how best to proceed to protect his or her best interests and achieve an agreeable settlement.
Source: marketwatch.com, "What a divorce can do to your credit", Josh Smith, Dec. 28, 2017