Property division during a California divorce can be complicated. One of the first steps that must be taken before deciding which party gets what from a marriage is determining if property is marital or separate. This post will offer a general definition of each kind of property, but no part of this post should be read as legal advice. Questions about divorce and property division should be asked of trusted family law and divorce attorneys.
Community property in California
California is what is known as a community property state. That means that property owned by married people is generally assumed to be owned by both parties to the marriage. If property was acquired during a marriage, it is usually classified as marital property and owned by both spouses.
Both tangible and intangible assets are considered property in the state. For example, traditional items of property like real estate, cars, and artwork are considered property, but so are investments, savings accounts, and other financial devices. In community property states like California, marital property is usually split equally, or 50/50, between the divorcing parties.
Defining separate property during a divorce
Most property acquired during a marriage will be classified as marital property, but there are exceptions to this general rule. Items of property that fall into the following categories may be considered separate property and not subject to distribution through the property division process of a California divorce:
- Property owned before marriage and maintained as separate property
- Property obtained through an inheritance
- Property obtained through a gift
- Property stipulated as separate in a marital agreement
Defining property before dividing it in a divorce-related property settlement is an important part of ensuring fairness in the process. Individuals with concerns and questions about their property, their rights, and their divorces can contact their trusted Southern California family law attorneys.