Bifurcation and Community Property

An interesting difference in divorce laws between California and Nevada is the treatment of community property. In California, accumulation of community property occurs when the petition for divorce is filed. In Nevada, community property continues to accrue until:

a) the final decree of divorce is signed by the judge

b) the parties stipulate (agree) to stop the accumulation

c) the judge orders a bifurcation

Bifurcation is the term used to separate the issues in the case. For instance, the judge can grant the divorce (thus ending community property) but defer ruling on property and alimony issues. Curiously, judges in Nevada hardly ever do this.

Why is this important? In my case, my 401k continued to appreciate for over two years before the accumulation ended – providing tens of thousands of dollars to my ex. Conversely, my house price fell $100,000 in two years and the loss was split equally.   

In this case, I think California has it right!


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