California is one of nine community property states in the U.S., which means that all assets acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse is divided equally if there is no written agreement requiring a particular division of property.
What Is Community Property?
Any property, cars, boats or other vehicles purchased, accumulated income and savings, 401(k)s, stocks and bonds, etc. acquired during a marriage are presumed to belong to both spouses—i.e. the “community.” Similarly, any mortgages, credit cards, car loans or other debts accumulated during the marriage also belong to the community, regardless of which spouse acquired the income or incurred the debt during the marriage.
What Is Separate Property?
Unlike community property, separate property is anything that spouses owned before the marriage, and continued to keep completely separate. Examples of separate property include:
- Gifts received during the marriage
- Student loans
- Property acquired while one or both spouses were living separate and apart
What is Transmuted Property?
Transmutation occurs when a piece of property changes characterization during marriage. A married couple in California reserves the right to make either (1) separate property into community property, (2) community property into separate property or (3) separate property of one spouse into the separate property of the other spouse.
Documenting and agreeing that the property changed from one form to another is necessary for transmutation. Without a written agreement, property is considered to take on its original form: community property or separate property.
Identifying All Community Property
Properly identifying all community property can be difficult, especially if it’s a high-asset divorce. If you need help better understanding your property’s classification in California, contact our Altamonte Springs family law attorney at the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. to learn more. We can help you throughout the divorce process and make sure you get a fair shake on community property.Call (407) 753-4111 or contact us online for a free consultation today.