What is Community Property (California Family Code 760)
The California Family Code section 760 states that except otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, acquired by a married person during the marriage is community property. Family Code Section 770 defines separate property of a married person as:
1. All property owned by the person before marriage
2. All property acquired by the married person during the marriage by gift, bequest (inheritance), devise or descent; AND
3. The rents, issues and profits of separate property
The above referenced code sections are the general principals of California community property law. These principals create presumptions that may be rebutted and thus change the characterization of your property. It is important that you understand what your property rights are and how community property law can affect your divorce or legal separation. Our division of property attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can further explain these general principals and how and when these principals can be rebutted.
Community Property in California
Example: A husband and wife are married in 2007. In 2010, the wife purchases a used car for $2,500.00. The $2,500.00 comes from money she had been saving from her work earnings and setting it aside for the past year. The $2,500.00 used to purchase the used car came from money earned in 2009, which is during the marriage. Thus, the money was acquired during marriage and is characterized as community property. The car is also characterized as community property because although it was purchased during the marriage, the car was purchased with community funds.
Separate Property in California
Example: A husband and wife are married in 2007. The husband’s father passes away in 2010.
As per the terms of the deceased father’s will, the husband inherits $50,000.00. Although the money was acquired during the marriage, the $50,000.00 is characterized as the husband’s separate property as it was acquire by bequest (inheritance).
The wife has a zero interest in the $50,000.00.
Exceptions to the Community Property Rule
It is important to note that Family Code sections 760 and 770 are the general principles of community property law in California. There are exceptions to these rules that would change the characterization of your property. If property is acquired during marriage, under section 760 the property is presumed to be community property. However, this presumption can be rebutted by applying different rules and/or case law and thus show that the property, although acquired during marriage, is truly not community property.
Further, there are many instances where property can be characterized as both community property and separate property. This requires diligence and care when appropriately characterizing property for the purposes of division in a divorce or legal separation.
Division of Property Attorney
Community property law is complex. At times, property cannot be easily characterized and will require a skilled division of property attorney who can correctly determine what is community property and what is separate property. If you and your spouse have property that will be a part of your divorce or legal separation, it is important you retain an experienced division of property attorney from Wallin & Klarich.
Our attorneys can make sure your property rights are protected and that you get the best legal representation possible. With offices located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Victorville, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Torrance and Ventura , there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live. We will get through this together.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428 or fill out our online consultation form on our website to get in contact with a legal professional today.