Separate Property and Community Property in California
Divorce Lawyers in Alameda County, California
California is a community property state. That means that all assets and debts accumulated over the course of the marriage [subject to certain exceptions such as gifts and property inherited by, or given to, only one spouse], are to be divided equally among the spouses in the event of the divorce. Separate property is property already owned by a spouse before marriage, and separate property is generally awarded to the spouse who brought the separate property into the marriage. However, unless property is determined and agreed to be separate property in the form of a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage, litigation is often required to determine whether any item of property is still separate property, its value, and what an equal distribution of assets will look like.
Sometimes, There Is a Community Property Interest in Separate Property
Even when separate property is clearly delineated prior to the marriage, any gain in net worth of the property, such as stocks or gain in real estate value, that occurs over the duration of the marriage may also be litigated as community property in the divorce settlement. If the spouses commingle their assets, by continuing to invest in a stock or mutual bond fund that is considered separate property, the courts may determine that the entirety of the assets may be considered community property and subject to equitable distribution to both parties. Litigation over these kinds of community interests in separate property can be effectively precluded with a properly drafted prenuptial agreement.
If your pending California divorce will include complex issues of separate and community property, I will protect your rights. I have more than 30 years of experience representing clients in high-asset divorce cases in the San Francisco Bay Area. I know how judges review cases and make decisions on property, asset and debt division related to:
- Prenuptial agreement disputes and litigation
- Investment property assets
- Separate property and marital debt
- Division of community property and debt
- Qualified retirement funds, pensions, 401(k) assets
- Complex business holdings and securities investments
- Executive bonuses, stock options and deferred compensation
- Real estate property, first mortgages, vacation properties
- Business ownership, silent partnership holdings
- LLC and professional practices
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The right lawyer will make a difference in the outcome of your property settlement. Call me to learn more about separate property and community property in California. From my offices in Berkeley, California, I represent clients in family law matters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Call me at (510) 644-2411 or contact my office by e-mail to arrange a free consultation to discuss your legal issue with an experienced Berkeley family law attorney.
Martin "Jamie" Elmer, Esq. is recognized as a Certified Family Law Specialist by California State Bar