During a divorce in California, nearly everything a couple owns is spit 50-50, unless there is a prenuptial agreement or the property is considered non-marital. This is because California is a community property state.
Oftentimes, parties to a California divorce are shocked to learn that items they thought they owned free and clear could actually go to their spouse following the spit. Jewelry purchased or received during the relationship is an example of these unexpected items.
Jewelry is at issue in many marriages, especially because close to 80 percent of brides receive an engagement ring prior to tying the knot. Many couples also celebrate holidays, birthdays and anniversaries by exchanging jewelry.
So the question remains, who gets the jewelry in a divorce? The answer is: it depends. Property division rules regarding jewelry can vary depending on the state the couple resides in, how the jewelry was purchased or received and the reason for the divorce.
According to a recent article from the Huffington Post, there are a few steps people can take to prepare their jewelry for divorce. The first is to lose emotional attachment from the jewelry, if possible. In some cases, but not all, jewelry is sold as part of the property settlement, so it's best to be emotionally ready.
On that note, it's also important to point out that non-marital property, also known as separate property, is usually not divided during a divorce. This property may include family heirlooms, jewelry purchased before the marriage or with non-marital funds, and gifts from people other than the spouse.
Talk to an experienced family law attorney in your state for more information about property division and other issues relating to divorce.
Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Things To Know About Your Jewelry When Getting A Divorce," Steve Hami, March 20, 2012