Property Division

Property Division Laws in California

Divorce attorney Serving Clients in Rancho Cucamonga 

When spouses decide to get a divorce or legal separation, they will have to resolve issues related to asset and property division. In order to ensure your rights and interests are protected, it is highly advised that you speak with an experienced and proven Rancho Cucamonga divorce lawyer. The state of California is a "community property" state, which means that when the marital property is divided, it is done as equally as possible.

The task of fairly and equally dividing property is not very simple one in most cases. Many factors can make the division process complex and cause emotional havoc between the divorcing parties. One spouse may try to hide assets or fight for property that doesn’t belong to them. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side during this time can make all the difference! That is why you should not hesitate to give us a call.

We provide the legal representation you need to clear the hurdles of property division and divorce. Call (909) 992-0188 now.

What Is Community Property?

Community property is basically defined as property acquired after the marriage and before physical separation. Any property brought into the marriage, received as a gift, or inherited will usually not be included in the division if it is kept separate. For example, if one spouse entered the marriage owning a business and the value of it increases while married that increase in value could be counted as community property.

Other types of community property include:

Joint checking accounts

  • Each spouse’s income
  • Vehicles
  • Houses
  • Real estate
  • Marital debts
  • Home furnishings
  • 401k plans

What Is Separate Property?

Separate property is not subject to division by the court upon dissolution of marriage or legal separation. In California, separate property is defined by the family code as:

  1. All property owned by the person before marriage.
  2. All property acquired by the person after marriage by bequest, devise, or decent.
  3. The rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.
  4. The earnings and accumulations of a spouse and the minor children living with, or in the custody of the spouse, while living separate and apart from the other spouse.

Can Separate Property Become Community Property?

There are instances where separate property can become community property or vice versa:

  • Commingling: Separate property can become community property if it gets mixed or commingled with community property to the extent that it's no longer possible to separate the original separate property from the community property. For example, if funds from a separate bank account are regularly used to pay household expenses or joint debts, those funds may become community property.
  • Transmutation: This occurs when spouses intentionally change the character of property from separate to community or vice versa. For example, if one spouse transfers ownership of their separate property to both spouses jointly or if they use separate property to purchase property titled in both spouses' names, it may be considered transmuted to community property.
  • Gifts or Inheritance: While gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during marriage are typically considered separate property, they can become community property if they are commingled with community property or if both spouses use them for the benefit of the community.
  • Improvements and Appreciation: If separate property increases in value during the marriage due to the efforts or contributions of both spouses, the increase in value may be considered community property. Similarly, if one spouse uses separate property to make improvements to community property, the value of those improvements may become community property.
  • Agreements: Spouses can also agree to change the character of property through written agreements, such as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. These agreements can specify how property will be treated in the event of divorce and may override the default community property rules.

California Property Division Laws

While California is a community property state, this doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split of assets. Instead, the court aims for a fair and equitable distribution based on factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, their contributions to the marriage, and their overall financial situation.

Debts acquired during the marriage are generally considered community debts and are subject to division, similar to assets. However, like with assets, there can be exceptions and complexities.

Couples can also draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to specify how assets and debts will be divided in the event of divorce. These agreements can override some aspects of community property laws as long as they're deemed fair and legally enforceable.

Ideally, couples should try to reach a mutual agreement on property division through negotiation or mediation. If they can’t agree, the court will intervene and make the final decision.

Speak with Our Divorce Attorney Today

Given the complexity of property division laws, the best way to protect your rights and divide property in a fair manner is to have a skilled lawyer at your side. At Family Law Advocacy Group we will fight for what is fair and deserved in your divorce case. We can aggressively defend your rights to certain property and work to ensure your best interests remain protected.

If you are in need of skillful or aggressive legal representation, contact our Rancho Cucamonga divorce Lawyer.

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