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Dividing Community Property

Dear Help-U-File:

I know it is 'equally owned', but is how the cash is spent, saved, or are debts incurred important at divorce? We were married 5/17 and separated from living together in 4/18. We are filing papers 2/19. If we agree to date of separation as 4/18, then do we have to "trace" amounts/totals of earnings/debt to that date? And split those as community property?

Is how each of us spent what relevant? are we 'supposed' to be able to spend equally the income we both make or does it not matter as it is cash for use by both persons in the community? If one person spent more does it matter and can the other person say they are 'owed' money for not having spent the same amounts?

Help-U-File’s answer:

While you were married, the law presumes that you and your spouse were in a special kind of partnership known as "the community." You share equally earnings and obligations. When you got married, you might have had bills to pay or things you were buying on time. Since you were married less than a year, you didn't have a chance to build up a lot of community property or debt, but if there is any, you should split whatever the net worth or the net debt is. If you used partnership money to pay off a car or something else that will go with the owner when you split, you reduced your own debt with community money, so you might owe for half of the debt reduction or equity buildup.

Are these rules confusing? Yes. If you want to be sure about how it works, you will need to spend some time with an experienced person, going over what money things happened during your marriage if you want an exact answer. Most of the time it is not worth the time, cost and energy to fight about relatively small amounts. At Help-U-File, we resolve these issues regularly and take the confusion out.

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