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Is California a Community Property State?

California is considered a “community property” state and does not follow equitable distribution rules. This means a married couple’s community property should be divided equally in the event of a divorce (if there is no written agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement).

Community property – also known as marital property – consists of all assets that a couple acquires during the marriage. To determine the net community estate, the court will subtract a couple’s debts from their shared assets and then each spouse will receive one-half of the estate.

Couples can divide property by assigning specific assets to each spouse, allowing one spouse to purchase – or “buy out” – the other’s share of the property, or by selling assets and dividing the profits. In addition, they can agree to hold property together after the divorce is finalized because it is an investment that could increase in value.

Rather than dividing each physical object (i.e., “in kind” division), there must be a 50/50 split of the estate’s value. For example, one spouse gets the family home, while the other spouse receives the family business or any other asset of equal value to the house.

Remember, only marital property is subject to property division, rather than separate property, which are assets a spouse owned before getting married or received as gifts or inheritances.

However, if separate property is mixed with community property – which is known as “commingling” – then the property loses its separate character. For example, if one spouse receives a monetary inheritance and uses the money to pay the mortgage on the family home or deposits the funds into a joint bank account, then it may be considered community property.

If you are interested in filing for divorce in Granite Bay or Placer County, contact Myers Family Law today at (916) 634-0067 to learn how we can protect your rights and best interests. Let a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist represent you!