Property division is a complicated matter in most divorces but can be even more so when you have multiple large assets. For example, you may have more than one house or multiple retirement plans to hash out between you and your spouse.

One of the most common questions spouses have during divorce proceedings has to do with the division of retirement accounts. Keep reading for more information on property division in California regarding retirement accounts.

Property basics

In California, the property is generally either community property or separate property. Separate property includes assets and debts that you gained before your marriage or after your separation. Special rules apply to inheritances or gifts made to one spouse during the marriage that give them separate property status.

Community property includes assets and debts that you accumulate during your marriage. This is true even of things that are technically owned by only one spouse, such as credit cards or vehicles. It does not matter whose name is on the bill; if you acquire it during your marriage then it is community property.

Comingled property

Certain assets are partially separate property and community property for division purposes. According to the California Courts website, this situation falls under “comingled property,” and apply to many retirement accounts or pensions.

If you have a retirement account you started before the marriage, those contributions done by you are separate property and belong to you. Any contributions made to the retirement account after the marriage, however, are community property. This means that portion of your pension or 401(k) is subject to division between you and your spouse.