Property Division California

Posted by admin on April 27th, 2006

California is one of eight states that have Community property laws.  This means that in these states after a divorce all property is to be divided equally between both parties.  It doesn’t matter if the marriage is six days old or sixty years old.  This law could result in a big bonus for someone who is only married for a short amount of time.

What is considered community property?  In California, community property is any or all property gained during the marriage.  That’s half and half regardless of whether one spouse was a wage earner or not.

What is not community property?

1. Inherited Property
2. Property acquired before marriage;
3. Gifts to one of the spouses given by a third party.  Gifts from one spouse to another is considered marital property and covered under the community property law.
4. If one spouse already had an asset at time of marriage but it increased in value because of the work of the other spouse, the increase of value may be considered a marital property but not the original asset.

So how is property divided between the two parties in the case of a divorce in California?  This is most often based on a judge’s discretion.  The court can redistribute the assets in a divorce to accommodate the different needs of the spouse.  Will one spouse have to retrain to find a job to support the family?  If so, then the court can allow a different distribution of assets.

Each spouse can also be held equally responsible for debts that were incurred during the marriage for community property.  Each spouse will also be responsible for any debts they brought into the marriage, separate debts that were incurred that didn’t benefit the marriage.  They also will be responsible for any debts that were made after the separation and before the divorce was granted that were not for necessities.  If debts are incurred for necessities then they should be equally divided.

Some assets may need to be traced back through the accounting process to find what date the asset came into existence.  This could discover if it is considered to be community property and to be divided equally at the end of the marriage.  This will take the services of a lawyer and an accountant and could take some time to go through all the changes that has occurred to it since its beginning.

In case of death, one half of the community property can be left to someone other than the spouse if it is designated in a will.  However, if no will is found then all assets will be passed to the surviving spouse.

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