This does not mean that you have to go in front of a judge to decide these issues. Often, couples are able to divide their property (and their debts) by agreement. But when you get divorced, the judge has to sign off on that agreement. Until that happens, the property you got during the marriage or domestic partnership belongs to the 2 of you, no matter who is using it or who has control of it. The same is true of debts. If you divide them between you without a court order (or without a judge signing off on your agreement), the debt continues to belong to the 2 of you and you are both responsible for it, even if the 2 of you split it up informally.
Community property also includes all the earnings that either spouse or partner (or both of you) earned during the marriage and everything bought with those earnings. You can usually tell if property belongs to the community by looking at the source of the money that was used to buy it. If the purchase money was earned during the marriage, the property belongs to the community.
In California, each spouse or partner owns one-half of the community property. And, each spouse or partner is responsible for one-half of the debt. Community property and community debts are usually divided equally.
When you get divorced or legally separated, the court makes decisions about how to divide the property that the spouses or domestic partners bought during the marriage.