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Distribution of Community Property in California

Divorce is hard enough, but dividing marital property can be even more so. First, the parties must identify what constitutes marital property, and that can be a contentious process, especially if there's been any commingling of funds between separate property and marital assets. Then, valuation of the property is necessary to make sure there's an even split of property, unless circumstances demand another proportion to reimburse one spouse for the bad behavior or waste of marital funds by the other spouse.

To get through it, you need the guidance of a divorce attorney who knows how to approach the division of assets and debts using the community property principle. At Morris Law Firm, our family law lawyer in California will review your case, outline your best options, and advocate for your rights and interests. Contact us online or at 626-914-2791 to schedule a Consultation. 

What are Marital Assets in California?

Generally speaking, marital assets are property obtained by either spouse, or both spouses together, during the course of the marriage. This property is to be distinguished from property that is kept separate, and only owned by one spouse. Marital assets may include real property, stocks, and retirement accounts. Debt accumulated by one or both spouses during the marriage can also be considered as marital property and belongs to both parties.  

What Does Community Property Mean in California?

There are some states that are considered “community property” states. In these states, all marital assets are considered to be owned jointly by the spouses and must be split jointly when the parties divorce. Community property belongs to the marriage rather than any one spouse. For example, if a home is bought in only the name of one spouse during the marriage, that home is considered to be community property and belongs to the marriage (and should be split between the parties).

Community property states do not recognize the name a property is registered in as the only owner. For example, one spouse may earn a pension through their employer, and this pension is in their name alone. However, in a community property state, the pension is recognized as belonging to both spouses and will be disbursed accordingly. This can seem particularly unfair when assets are divided.

There are a few exceptions to what is considered community property in the states that recognize it. For example, property acquired before marriage or an inheritance, even one received during the course of the marriage, may not be considered community property. 

Common Challenges to the Division of Community Property 

A common challenge to dividing assets in a community property state is the commingling of separate property with community property. The court will attempt to trace separate property that has been commingled with the community property, and return it to its rightful owner. For example, if one spouse uses part of an inheritance to purchase a vacation home, they should receive full credit back for that amount as an inheritance is considered separate property. 

Businesses are also often a source of contention in divorces in community property states. Who bought the business and when, as well as who contributed funds and where the funds came from, are all matters to be considered when deciding if a business is community property.

Benefits of a Divorce Lawyer for the Division of Community Property in California

If you are going through a divorce, it is imperative that you know if your state is a community property state. Even if it is not, you will need to know how your state distinguishes between marital assets and separate property. A local attorney experienced in family law will consult with you and advise you on what to expect during your divorce. 

Contact a Division of Assets Lawyer in California Today

Division of community property is required when you get divorced. You and your spouse can agree as to who gets what, but ultimately, a judge will approve it. That said, when there's a lot at stake, division of assets and debts can become contentious. Having someone who knows the law and has strong negotiating skills will help make the process go as smoothly as possible. Contact us today either online or at 626-914-2791 to schedule a Consultation.