California is a community property state, but that doesn't mean that couples have to abide by a 50-50 split if they don't want to when they divorce. California's courts normally accept any reasonable or fair property division agreement that you and your spouse agree to. However, if you can't agree, you will need to go to court and have the Superior Court do so for you.
There are a few reasons why it's better to divide your property yourself. These include:
- Not having to go to trial, where your assets will be made public
- Not allowing a third party to make decisions for you
- Not wanting to divide property equally but instead equitably
Although the courts do want to provide a 50-50 split of assets upon your divorce, there are times when the judge can waiver from that. For example, if your spouse emptied out the bank account and spent it all on a mistress, the judge might provide you with a larger share of assets to make up for the financial damage that was done to you. The key to this is showing that your spouse deliberately misappropriated the asset to your detriment.
You and your spouse should consider talking through your property division settlement to see if you can come up with your own agreement. If you cannot, going through mediation or arbitration is a possibility. If both of those fail, then you may need to go to trial, where the judge will decide how to divide your assets for you, regardless of your feelings about the results.