California is one of nine U.S. states known as “community property” states. The laws regarding community property, separate property, and quasi-community property can affect estate planning and probate matters, and divorce proceedings as well. And since it never hurts to refresh our knowledge of the basics, here is an overview of how California law defines different types of property.
First, “community property” is defined as any asset that is earned or acquired by either spouse during the time of their marriage. That may include a home or homes, business, art works purchased during the marriage, and so on.
Next, “separate property” is property that is owned or acquired by either spouse before the marriage took place. This might include real estate, homes, etc. One significant subset of separate property is any property resulting from an inheritance: heirloom jewelry, art, a family home, even income from a trust. It also follows that this inherited separate property may be included in a living trust as indeed separate; this allows family assets to be preserved and handed down, or rather, kept within the (original) family. Divorcing parties may not claim this kind of property as community marital assets, nor may they dispose of it, under the Standard Family Restraining Orders that take effect immediately following a filing for divorce.
During the often-stressful process of divorce, property can become the object of dispute and contention between parties, even wielded as a metaphorical weapon or prize relating to their conflicts. The California laws concerning property are meant to clearly define, even simply the complex process of dividing the material and intangible assets that accompany a marriage, when that union is dissolved.
Should you be contemplating or already proceeding with a California divorce, the quality of your legal representation can make all the difference, particularly if you or your spouse are high net worth individuals. All the more reason to consult with a knowledgeable family attorney at Dinnebier & Demmerle. Let us take on your issues and concerns and work with you to achieve the best possible legal outcome. We’re located in Tustin, in Orange County, and ready to accompany you through each step of the California divorce process. The sooner you give us a call, the sooner we can begin! To set up a consultation, please call 714-598-3714.