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Community Property vs. Separate Property in CA Divorce


As a community property state, California orders that everything a husband and wife own be split equally between themselves in the event of a divorce. In comparison, other states may direct property division in a manner a judge deems as equitable, or fair, but not completely equal. As a community property state, it is important that the right assets be included in the division process. If one spouse owns certain property or assets separately, they will want to make sure that those assets are kept separate and not divided.

This also means that both spouses have an equal stake in the money earned by either one, regardless of the length of marriage. All the property that is purchased with this community money or shared between the two spouses will be included in the property division process.

How will it all be divided?

Determining what property will be kept separate and what property will be divided in a divorce can be challenging. A couple must assess what was shared and what was truly kept between each individual spouse. Often times, property becomes mixed once a couple gets married. For example, if a husband bought a car prior to the marriage, but his wife helped him cover monthly car payments once they were married, it may be considered community property that they shared.

Community property often includes items such as:

  • The family house
  • Furniture and home décor
  • Vehicles
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Family-owned businesses
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Any type of shared debts

Separate property can include anything kept apart from marital assets, such as:

  • Gifts or inheritances received during marriage
  • A personal vehicle or property bought prior to marriage
  • All property, wages, or assets earned after the date of separation

So long as the assets are kept separate from marital property and not intermingled, they can typically be considered separate property and will not have to be divided up in the event of a divorce. It is important that you keep documentation for these items so that you can ensure your separate property is protected.

Have more questions on how your property will be divided in a divorce? :BusinessName} can provide the counsel and insight you need backed by our 30 years of experience! Call us today for a consultation.

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