On the surface, the notion of community and separate property should be straightforward. What you personally purchased before your marriage is yours and whatever purchases were made during the course of the marriage are to be divided. However, the division of marital property is rarely this simple, particularly in California, which requires an equal division of community property.
Contact Charles D. Stark. As a Santa Rosa community property lawyer, I have more than 40 years of experience handling complex divorce cases. I can help with the characterization and valuation of your property to help ensure that your assets remain protected while property is divided fairly and equitably.
On paper, the difference between separate property and community property is simple. Separate property is any property that was acquired by either spouse prior to getting married. In addition, separate property may also include any property that was gifted to one spouse during the course of the marriage or inherited by them. Community property generally refers to any property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. This includes debts, as well as assets.
Asset and property division in divorce and Separation cases gets complicated when there has been a commingling of separate and community property. For example, an inheritance left to one spouse is generally considered to be separate property. However, if the proceeds of the inheritance are used toward community property, it may have been commingled and will then be considered community property. Another example is a gift of jewelry from one spouse to the other. If it is a gift, it is separate property. However, if it is characterized as an investment, it is community property. In addition, debt payments must be considered as to source or application since they can change the character of the property being paid for.
Those are just three examples of how property division cases can quickly become complicated. With more than three decades of family law experience, I can help with characterization and valuation issues, including tracing gifts and reimbursements if property is not initially characterized properly. I am committed to ensuring that your property settlement is fair while keeping your most valuable assets protected.
If you are going through a divorce and are curious how your property, including any inheritance proceeds, is likely to be divided, I can help. Contact me online or call 707-527-9900 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.