Is California a Community Property State?

If you’re getting a divorce in Orange County or anywhere else in California, it’s very important that you have a firm grasp on howproperty is divided in a California divorce. Because the cost of making a mistake can be high, you should consult with a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer before filing for divorce, especially if you have significant marital assets or debt.

California is called a “community property” state, which means both spouses have a 50 percent interest in all income and assets acquired during the course of a marriage. Even if just one spouse worked during the marriage, the dependent spouse would legally be entitled to half of their spouse’s income and assets acquired during the marriage.

Separate vs. Community Property

The first step is to understand property, which includes the following:

  1. A home
  2. A patent
  3. Real estate
  4. Investments
  5. A business
  6. Life insurance with cash value
  7. Furniture and clothing
  8. Retirement accounts
  9. Cash in bank accounts
  10. Security deposits on apartments or rental homes

When you divorce, only “community property” is subject to division. Separate property is not divided in a divorce. Separate property includes property owned before the marriage (with limited exceptions), and inheritances and gifts made to one spouse alone. Separate property also includes any money a spouse acquires after the date of separation, including the spouse’s income.

“If you have separate property, it belongs only to you, as long as it was kept separately. Debts can be separate property too, such as credit cards you might get after the date of separation. Always look at the source of the money used to buy an item. In this way, you can decide if the item is separate property or community property,” according to the California Courts.

Looking for an Orange County divorce attorney? Contact Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP to request a free case evaluation with a member of our legal team.

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