Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

During your marriage, you and your spouse may purchase property together or even start a joint business. Unfortunately, if the relationship falters, dividing these property interests could be complicated, particularly if emotions become involved.

Although state community property laws are generally intended to create a 50/50 split of a couple’s assets, dividing property in a divorce is not always a straightforward process. Fortunately, a Thousand Oaks property division lawyer could help you determine what community property is and, just as importantly, what it is not. A seasoned divorce attorney has extensive experience managing these cases and can help you reach an equitable agreement with your former spouse.

How is Community Property Defined in Thousand Oaks?

State law presumes that any property acquired by one or both spouses during their marriage while living in the state is community property and should be shared equally in a divorce. Debt that the couple assumed while married may also be considered community property.

It is important to note that the law does not favor the spouse who earned the income to purchase the property. Similarly, the law does not assign all debt to a spouse based on who incurred the debt.

Community property law deems each spouse a part of an undivided family unit, and each spouse’s interest in and responsibility for that unit is considered ‘equal.’ Accordingly, judges generally must determine what property belongs to the ‘marital community’ and divide it evenly. A seasoned attorney could help an individual spouse determine what may be considered community property in an asset division case.

Exceptions to the Community Property Presumption

While the community property law may appear simple, certain exceptions can make a property division in a divorce more challenging. For example, an inheritance one spouse receives during the marriage or a gift to a spouse from a third party is not community property. Instead, it is ‘separate property’ and not divisible. Additionally, if the acquisition of specific property is traceable to a source owned by one spouse before the marriage, the property may remain that spouse’s separate property.

The distinction between community and separate property is not always clear. For example, a spouse may use funds saved prior to marriage to purchase a large asset for the couple’s enjoyment after they marry. In this case, a skilled property division attorney in Thousand Oaks could assist a party in classifying ‘mixed’ property.

Can a Couple Keep Property “Separate” During Their Marriage?

California Family Code § 850-853 permits spouses to “transmute” community property to separate property. While it may have initially been community property subject to division in a divorce, it becomes the spouses’ separate property. This can be a useful tool for couples who do not want a specific property they acquired during the marriage to become community property. However, there are stringent legal requirements that must be met, and it is advisable to consult a lawyer when considering transmuting property in an asset division case.

What Types of Assets May Be Community Property?

Property generally falls into two categories, real and personal. Personal property usually refers to other assets, such as cars, jewelry, and clothing. However, common examples of community property include:

  • Houses
  • Household items and furniture
  • Vehicles
  • Financial accounts, including bank, stock, and other investment accounts
  • Funds from a worker’s compensation or personal injury award
  • Property collections, such as jewelry, coins, art, or wine

In some cases, even intangible items such as intellectual property, patents, and trademarks may constitute community property in a divorce. An attorney in the area could help a spouse categorize property in a divorce settlement.

A Thousand Oaks Property Division Attorney Could Help You Reach Your Goals

There is no substitute for the experience of a Thousand Oaks property division lawyer in a divorce. An attorney at our firm has the experience necessary to help you receive a fair property division and maintain the financial success you have worked so hard to achieve. Call us today to get started.

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