In California, property division must follow the laws stated in the California Family Code. These laws detail how all property and debt acquired during the marriage typically must be divided equally between the spouses at dissolution. However, there are a few statutory exceptions to this rule. For example, by written agreement or oral stipulation “in open court,” parties are free to divide their community estate however they like—whether equally or unequally. Courts will accept properly stipulated division agreements and have no role in approving or disapproving property divisions agreed to by the parties.
So, while parties do have an opportunity to agree on how to split their community assets, it is necessary to be aware of community property laws and how they will affect the court’s division of property if no agreement is reached between the parties. If you have any questions about properly drafting a written agreement, it is always best to consult with our experienced attorneys who specialize in family property division.