Download: California Property and Debt Division Cheat Sheet
When and why should you use this property division tool
When: When you and your spouse are ready to delve into the "nitty-gritty" and divide your assets and debts. You can use this spreadsheet for everything from weighing your options to negotiating with your spouse (or their lawyer) to attaching it to your final agreement.
Why: You can't split every asset or debt (nor would you want to) equally. This spreadsheet allows you to enter in all of your property and debt (separate and joint!) and assign it to the spouse who wants it. Once you've accounted for everything you both own, you will know who is receiving more money. You can then determine if either party owes the other a sum to equalize the division.
How to use this property template
Community property, also referred to as marital property in some states. All property and debt acquired during the marriage and before separation is usually deemed community property unless one spouse acquired it through gift or inheritance. SP: Separate property is all property and debt acquired before marriage and/or after separation AND all property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance. H: Husband* W: Wife*
- Column A: Numbered for your convenience. Nothing to do here.
- Column B: Enter the description of the asset, debt, or reimbursement.
- Column C: Enter the value of a CP (joint) asset or debt. If it's a negative number, indicate it with a "-" sign. If one party is owed a reimbursement on a CP asset (for example, they made a house down payment with SP funds), enter it in Column C with a "-" sign. Note: If the asset or debt is the SP of one spouse, do not enter it here.
- Column D: If the husband owns an asset or debt as SP, enter it here.
- Column E: If the wife owns the asset or debt as SP, enter it here.
- Column F: If the husband will receive this CP asset or debt, enter it here. If it is a negative value (e.g. mortgage balance), indicate it with a "-" sign.
- Column G: If an asset or debt is the husband's SP (per Column D), enter it here.
- Column H: If the wife will receive this CP asset or debt, enter it here. If it is a negative value (e.g., mortgage balance), indicate it with a "-" sign.
- Column I: If an asset or debt is the wife's SP (per Column E), enter it here.
- Column J: This is a notes section. Enter anything you want that is helpful (e.g., how you arrived at a particular value, the source of an SP asset). At the bottom of the spreadsheet, you'll learn the total value of all CP (assets and debts) and the amount necessary to "equalize" you or your spouse. *Feel free to swap titles like "husband" or "wife" to any abbreviations you prefer.
Notes on the Property Division Cheat Sheet
Many people choose to leave retirement accounts out of this template. It's difficult to determine the CP value of a retirement account if contributions were made before marriage or after separation. You may ask an actuary to value the CP interest. Or, you and your spouse may arrive at an approximate value that's agreeable.
Another option is to divide and equalize the retirement accounts separately. In that case, you would use a separate order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and your financial institutions would do the math for you. If performed correctly, there will be no tax consequences to either of you.
Property Division Cheat Sheet Example
Figuring who gets what can be one of the most time-consuming sources of contention after a breakup. Suddenly all those belongings look a lot more appealing, and deciding who fairly ends up with items you purchased together is no easy task. Here, we offer our tips for a successful settlement agreement you both can be happy with.
Furniture, Art, and Miscellaneous Item Agreement
Apportioning personal property (think: furniture, furnishings, sporting/ camping equipment, tools, antiques, appliances, wedding gifts, etc.) can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you through it:
- Make a spreadsheet (or start with our example spreadsheet below) and list all/most of your property that you and your spouse may have trouble dividing.
- Any items on the list that were gifts are separate property and belong to the person to whom they were gifted. Note this on the spreadsheet.
- Make two copies of your spreadsheet. Each of you should then go through it and mark which items you would like to have.
- If there are disputes over certain items, go through those items and take turns choosing which item you get to keep.
- Try to work together to split everything as evenly as possible.
- Note that if there are disputes about the values of personal property, either spouse can offer opinion testimony on the value.
- Update the spreadsheet as you progress with the property division.
Note: You could value each item to try and effectuate an equal (or near-equal division) of property. Courts generally use garage sale values. We don't actually recommend that you do this because of the serious potential of disagreement over values. It tends to become a prolonged and emotional issue – probably not the best use of your time or energy (unless the division is seriously unequal or unfair).