California is a community property state. As such, all community assets and all community debts are divided equally. California is also referred to as a no-fault state. This means that all that is required to get a divorce is a declaration that irreconcilable differences have arisen which have led to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Who did what to cause the breakdown has nothing to do with how the property is divided.

In a community property state like California, all property acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation is presumed to be community property. This is generally true regardless of how title to the property is held. Separate property is property that was owned prior to marriage and that which was acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance.

Some property can be both community and separate. For example, a retirement account that was begun before marriage and continued after the date of marriage has both characteristics. This example can apply to other types of property including businesses and real estate.

Though some individuals enter into marriages with considerable wealth to their names, others do not achieve extreme financial prosperity until after they have joined themselves with their marital partners. As such, individuals who live in community property states and who are members of high asset marriages may face considerable financial upheaval when they elect to divorce.