Do I Get to Keep My Separate Property in a California Divorce?

When couples head toward divorce, usually the first things on their minds are child custody and property division. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss the latter, specifically as it pertains to “separate property.”

California is a community property state, which means each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of the couple’s marital or “community” property. Community property is all income, assets, and property acquired during the marriage regardless of which spouse acquired it. Separate property, gifts and inheritances (for one spouse alone) are not divided in a California divorce.

What is Separate Property?

As we mentioned above, separate property is not divided in a California divorce. That being said, what counts as separate property? Separate property includes:

  • Anything you owned before the marriage;
  • An inheritance in your name alone;
  • A gift that you alone received;
  • Any income or property acquired after the date of separation;
  • Rents or profits that you earned from your separate property, even if it was during the marriage; and
  • Any property you purchased with separate property.

For example, let’s say your father passed away and you received an inheritance. You took $30,000 of that money and bought yourself a car. Even though you bought the car during the marriage, it’s still your separate property since you bought it with separate property.

If you happen to have separate property because you acquired it before the marriage, it was a gift or inheritance received during the marriage, you bought it with separate property, or you acquired it after the date of separation, it’s yours to keep as long as you keep it separate.

You have to be careful about “comingling” separate property (mixing separate property with community property), because when you do that, it can convert into community property.

Next: Can Cheating Impact Property Division?

To learn more about dividing property and debts in a California divorce, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group today.

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