What is Community Property in California?

Mon 11th March, 2019 Family Law

California is a community property state, but what does that exactly mean, and how does it affect the distribution of property in your California divorce? Understanding what property is considered marital assets and debts in a community property state can make a significant difference in the ultimate division of property between you and your spouse. The Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills vigorously advocates for our clients and helps them pursue their full share of community property in a California divorce.

What is Considered Community Property?

California defines community property as any asset or debt acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse. Conversely, separate property is defined as any asset or debt acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage, in addition to certain gifts, inheritances, or bequests to a specific spouse during the marriage. Community property law requires that all marital assets and debts are split equally between the spouses unless a written agreement like a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement states otherwise.

In order to calculate the community property estate of each spouse, the total marital assets are calculated and the total marital debts are subtracted from that amount. What remains is the community property estate, which is then split equally between the spouses. However, community property law does not require that the marital estate be split in kind, or by dividing each individual object. The value of the community property estate is split equally, so one spouse might keep the marital home while the other keeps a number of other assets that would equal the value of the real estate.

Unique Issues in Dividing Community Property

Some community property assets and debts can create unique issues for your California divorce, so it is important to have an experienced divorce attorney helping you navigate this often complex situation. If one or both spouses have a family business or assets commingled with a company it can cause significant complications to the valuing and distribution of community property. If one spouse starts or is a current student at the time of the marriage and incurs student debt, it can also be a significant point of contention in a divorce.

Real estate and homes that belonged to one spouse but were shared during the relationship can also sometimes be considered marital property in certain circumstances, especially if the other spouse contributed to their upkeep and payments during the course of the marriage. Finally, pension plans, retirement funds, military benefits, profit sharing plans, and other employee benefit plans that one or both spouses are a part of during the marriage can also be considered community property for the purposes of a California divorce.

Call or Contact Our Office Today to speak with a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

To learn more about community property and how the identification and distribution of the marital estate could affect your divorce proceedings, reach out to our experienced divorce attorney at The Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler. Call or contact the office today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.