Community Property Laws in California

Community-Property-LawsCalifornia is a Community Property Jurisdiction state. Divorce and all the emotional strains that come with it can be a very trying time for couples who, when they got married, never contemplated the idea that their relationship would ever fail, and that they would be seeking a legal end to their union. But then, there they are, in the midst of sometimes a bitter conflict with the one they sworn to “love and cherish” for the rest of their lives. As difficult as it is, divorces can be made even more combative when it comes to the division of marital property and the settling of debt accumulated during the marriage.

The issue of whether or not they want to end their marriage has been settled. Now, they must decide who gets what; who gets the crystal glassware and who gets the china. Some items that create major struggles between the parties are family pets.

In a community property jurisdiction, the court with the parties’ attorneys will attempt to help the parties identify what is community and what is separate property.

Community Property Jurisdiction

California, along with eight other states (Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) is a community property jurisdiction. Alaska alone, allows married couples to opt-in to make their property either “community or separate property.” In community property states, it is presumed that the marital property will be split 50/50 in a divorce. The majority of other states follow what is called “equitable distribution.” This means that marital property after a divorce is distributed “fairly,” not necessarily “equally.”

Community Property vs. Separate Property

In California, community property, also known as “marital property” is that property acquired during the marriage that is owned jointly by both spouses; whereas separate property is that property that was owned prior to marriage by either party.

Community “Marital” Property and Debt

Community property is defined as any property acquired during the marriage by or through the earnings of both parties. This also applies to community debt. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Property acquired by either party that is considered a gift or inheritance, or property owned by either party prior to the marriage is that party’s separate property. Separate property does not change its status even if it changes its form (i.e., an automobile that is separate property before the marriage does not change its status if it is traded for another automobile after the marriage). For any questions concerning how to identify whether a property is community or separate property, you will need to consult with your family law attorney.

Separate Property and Debt

Separate property, in a community property jurisdiction, is any property acquired by a party before marriage that is owned and wholly controlled by that party. During a divorce proceedings, the separate property and separate debt of a party remains their separate property, and there is no division of this property by the court.

Getting Legal Help for Your Santa Rosa Community Property Matter

Questions regarding the division of assets in a divorce can be complicated, especially when it comes to retirement accounts. If you have questions about divorce, Beck Law P.C. can help you. The Santa Rosa family law attorneys at Beck Law P.C., can answer your questions and help you determine the best method of obtaining a divorce given your unique circumstances. For a free consultation regarding divorce, or any other family law question, contact Beck Law P.C. at (707) 576-7175 or visit us online.