California is a community property state. This means that anything purchased or any debt accumulated during the marriage is considered communal and thus divisible in the event of divorce. We can help you identify potential property division issues and determine separate property, such as inheritance money or personal property purchased before the marriage, from communal property.
Before the economic downturn, a couple's home was often their most valued — and most contested — asset. Because the housing bubble burst, however, many families have very little equity in their houses, or the property is upside down, meaning individuals owe more on their mortgage than the property is currently worth. We will help you understand how this could affect your divorce and work toward an equitable solution.
Community property is the property profits and debts received by a husband and wife during the marriage, with the exception of inheritances, specific gifts to one of the spouses, and property profits clearly traceable to property owned before marriage, all of which is separate property.
- Community property recognizes the equal contribution of both parties to the marriage even though one or the other may earn more income through employment. By written agreement or action the married couple can turn (transmute) separate property into community property, including by commingling community and separate funds in one account.
- Separate property is owned by one spouse which he/she acquired: a) before marriage, b) by inheritance, c) as a gift, d) assets traceable to other separate property such as money received from sale of a house owned before marriage, and e) property the spouses agree is separate property. State laws vary, but basically separate property can be controlled by the spouse owning it.
- Quasi community property can be described as property acquired by a couple who have not been married, but have lived and purchased the property as if they were married. Often this includes property purchased or received by a couple shortly before marriage.
Upon divorce community property is divided equally without regard to fault. In the State of California, upon the death of one spouse all the community property goes to the other, while separate property is kept by the owner without division with the other spouse.