California Property Division Explained

Someone cutting a miniature house in half

How Much You Will Walk Away With

When a couple decides to get a divorce in California, one of the first things they need to do is figure out how their property will be divided. This process can be complicated, especially if there are assets or debts that are difficult to classify as either community or separate property. In this blog, learn the basics of California property division and how an attorney can help you protect your interests during divorce proceedings.

California's Community Property Laws

In California, there is a legal presumption that all property and debt acquired during the marriage is community property. Community property is defined as anything that either spouse acquires and earns during the marriage. This includes:

  • Wages and salaries

  • Bonuses

  • Commissions

  • Profits from businesses owned by either spouse

  • Gifts given to either spouse from a third party

It also includes things that are bought with money earned during the marriage, such as:

  • A house purchased with income earned during the marriage

  • A car purchased with income earned during the marriage

  • Artwork or jewelry purchased with income earned during the marriage

Separate Property in California Divorces

Under California law, separate property is anything that was acquired by either spouse before the marriage, or after the date of separation. It can also include gifts given to either spouse from a third party or inheritances, even gifts received during the marriage and (sometimes) gifts between spouses!

An example of separate property would be a house that was purchased by one spouse before the marriage. Another example of separate property would be an inheritance that one spouse received from a relative.

Commingled Property in California Divorces

In some instances, it can be challenging to determine whether a piece of property is community property or separate property. This is because some property may have been acquired during the marriage, but it may have been paid for with money that was earned before the marriage. This is called commingling.

For example, if a husband inherits $20,000 from his grandmother and uses that money to purchase a car during the marriage, the car would be considered commingled property. The husband would need to prove that the $20,000 was not used for anything else during the marriage in order to have the car classified as separate property.

Negotiating a Settlement in a California Divorce

Once the court has classified all of the property as either community or separate, the next step is for the spouses to negotiate a settlement. This process should be done with the help of an attorney.

If the couple is able to reach an agreement on their own, they can submit a proposed settlement to the court for approval. If the couple is not able to come to terms on property division, the court will make a decision on property division; under California law, all community property or commingled property determined to be community property must be divided in an equal manner.

It is important to have an experienced attorney representing you during this process because they will be able to help you protect your interests and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

Why You Should Have an Attorney for Divorce

An attorney can help determine whether property is community property, separate property, or commingled property. It is important to have an attorney because classification of property can have a significant impact on what a person walks away with after a divorce.

If you are going through a divorce in California, it is important to understand how your property will be divided. A family law attorney can answer your questions about community property, separate property, commingled property, and more.
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Filling out this form does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

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