As we have written in a previous blog post, California is a community property state. In general, that means that all property acquired by a married couple with assets earned during the marriage is owned equally by the husband and wife regardless of how it’s titled and all debts incurred during the marriage are owed equally. If the couple were to get divorced, then those assets and debts would be equally divided.
There is, however, one broad exception to community property, and that is property that is classified as separate property. Separate property is defined under §770 of the California Family Code as:
Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:
(1) All property owned by the person before marriage.
(2) All property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
(3) The rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.
It is also important to note that a married person may, without the consent of the person’s spouse, convey the person’s separate property.
The characterization of property is one of the most contentious issues that arises when a couple gets divorced. Even if you have kept meticulous records, determining whether property is community property or separate property can get very sticky. If you are contemplating divorce, or if you are in the middle of an ugly divorce battle that has complicated issues involving separate property, please contact The Wilson Law Firm, A Professional Corporation today for an initial consultation.