How does California classify property in a divorce?

How does California classify property in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2021 | Divorce |

Property division can be a contentious topic for couples in Sacramento going through a divorce. After all, everyone wants to feel like they got their fair share out of the process. When this happens, education can be key. The following is a brief overview of the types of property in a California divorce including community property, separate property and commingled property.

Community property

Unlike many other states in the nation California is a community property state for property division purposes. When a couple marries the two spouses become one legal entity for family law purposes. This means that property and income that a couple acquires while married is community property to which both spouses have an equal interest. It is important to note that debts acquired during the marriage are considered community debts for which each spouse is responsible.

Separate property

Separate property is that which a spouse owned prior to their marriage. Inheritances and gifts to only one spouse, even if they are granted while the couple is married, are also separate property. Property bought with separate funds and income made from separate property is considered separate property unless commingling has occurred.

Commingled property

Commingled property is separate property that has become so entwined with community property that it loses its separate status and will be considered community property. For example, if a person uses a separate bank account to pay for marital expenses, this may mean the separate bank account has commingled and will be considered community property. Or if a spouse owned a home prior to marriage, but while married sold the home and used the proceeds from the sale of the home to make mortgage payments on a marital home, then the proceeds have commingled and the equity in the marital home will be considered community property.

Learn more about property division in California

As this shows, property division in California is not always cut-and-dried. It is a complicated matter than many people seek help for. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s website on family law in California may be a useful resource for those who want further information on this topic.