Understanding Property Division in California

If you are facing a divorce in California, it is important to understand how property division works. California is a community property state, which means that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses. This includes real estate, cars, furniture, jewelry, bank accounts, and any other type of asset or debt.

What Is Community Property?

California is a community property state, which means that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses equally. When a couple gets divorced in California, community property must be divided between the two spouses. This means that each spouse is entitled to an equal share of all assets acquired during the marriage. Unless the couple has signed an agreement - such as a prenuptial agreement – stating otherwise the court will divide everything deemed to be community property 50/50 between each spouse.

For example, the court will divide any real estate owned by a couple equally between both spouses, whether these properties are the couple’s marital home or investment properties. This includes any mortgages or loans that are associated with those property. All furniture and other possessions acquired during the marriage must also be divided equally. Each spouse would receive 50% of the value of any bank accounts, investments, jewelry, or other assets that were acquired during the marriage. Any debt that was accumulated during the marriage must also be divided equally between both parties.

What Is Separate Property?

Separate property belongs solely to one spouse and is not subject to division in a divorce. Generally speaking, separate property includes any asset or debt that was owned before the marriage began, as well as any gifts or inheritances received during the marriage. In some cases, property acquired after you separated from your spouse may also be considered separate property, such as an inheritance or gift granted solely to one spouse.

If you have significant separate property, it is important that you consult an attorney to make sure that you are properly protected in the event of a divorce. In many cases, it may be worth creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to help ensure that separate property remains as such. An experienced attorney can help ensure that your separate property is not divided unfairly during divorce proceedings.

What About Commingling?

Commingling is a legal term used to describe when separate and community property become mixed together. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as when one spouse uses separate funds to pay down a debt that was acquired during the marriage or when one spouse mixes their separate funds with community funds in a joint bank account. When commingling occurs, it can be difficult to determine which property belongs to each spouse and how to divide it upon divorce.

An example of commingling could be if a couple has been married for two years and during that time, they purchased a house using community funds. The house is considered community property because it was acquired during the marriage. If, however, the husband then paid for renovations on the house with money from his premarital savings account, this would be considered commingling of separate and community property.

On the other hand, if one spouse inherited a property during the marriage, that property would likely be considered separate property. However, if both spouses used community property to maintain that inherited property, this could be considered an instance of comingling and that property could be considered community property, depending on the circumstances.

In some cases, courts may choose to “reverse” commingle assets by awarding them back to the original owner instead of dividing them equally between both spouses. However, this is not always easy or possible depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. To ensure that your rights are properly protected in cases of commingling, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your options and fight for what is fair in your situation.

What Happens If Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets?

During a divorce, each spouse is required to provide a full financial disclosure. However, in some cases, a spouse may try to hide assets to avoid having them divided in the divorce. This is illegal and can have serious consequences. When one spouse attempts to hide assets during a divorce, they are committing fraud against the court and their former partner by intentionally omitting information about their true financial situation. If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help you uncover these assets and ensure that they are properly accounted for in the divorce settlement.

At Burch Shepard Family Law Group, we understand how important it is to make sure that all assets are properly divided during a divorce. We have extensive experience helping our clients protect their rights and get the fair outcome they deserve in property division cases. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you understand your options and fight for what is fair in your situation.

If you are facing a divorce, contact us online or call us at (949) 565-4158 to learn more about how we can help.