Community Property Division in California

You have probably heard that California is a community property state and therefore you and your spouse will need to divide everything either or both of you owned during the marriage. Marital property may include assets such as:

  • Financial accounts: checking and savings accounts, brokerage accounts and retirement funds
  • Cars, boats and other vehicles used for work, pleasure or day-to-day living
  • Stocks, bonds and other investments
  • Real estate property, including your marital home and any second homes or rental houses or apartments that you own
  • Household goods such as furniture, silverware, artwork, tools, collectibles and more
  • Business assets

Family Code Section 751 and Family Code Section 770 give a general law regarding Separate and Community Property in California.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Determining what is marital property and what is separate property (owned by either party before the marriage) is an important first step in property division in the dissolution of marriage Negotiations or mediation should then focus on how to arrive at a fair division of the marital property.

The Most Common Sources of Community Property funds are:

  • Wages and Earnings from Employment
  • Investment Income and Growth
  • Returns on Investment in Business Operations
  • Savings from Employment and Investments

The Most Common Forms of Separate Property are:

  • Anything that was owned prior to Marriage
  • All property that is inherited, or received by bequest or devise
  • Gifts received from a Spouse
  • Personal Injury Proceeds
  • All post-marital acquisition of property

What Is Quasi-Community Property?

Quasi-Community property is essentially property acquired during the marriage outside of California, prior to initiating a Divorce.  The most common form of Quasi-Community property is Real Estate or Vehicles purchased during the marriage, and outside of California.  For purposes of property division in a California Divorce, the Court will treat the Quasi-Community property as Community Property.  

Commingling Community and Separate Property-Tracing

Quite often, Community Property and Separate Property are commingled, or mixed together.  This can happen when one of the following occurs:

  • Earnings or Savings during the marriage are put in a separate account
  • A spouse uses community income to pay a separate debt or mortgage
  • 401K’s or Pensions are added to after the marriage

Whatever the scenario, the funds will have to be traced to their source to establish the Community versus the Separate Property interest.  This method of “Tracing” the funds can require a Forensic accountant in some instances, when the valuations are complicated.  A Retirement account or 401K are usually divided by a QDRO.

Beverly Hills Divorce Lawyer Tailors Nonadversarial Legal Solutions

Property division does not have to follow a strict formula. There are flexible ways of arriving at an agreement that a family law judge will accept in your California divorce. The Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler A Professional Corporation can help ensure that you will obtain the fairest settlement while minimizing conflict.

I am attorney Bradley S. Sandler, and my extensive experience practicing law in many practice areas has prepared me to help you navigate processes such as negotiations, mediation or litigation that will lead to a property division settlement.

Whenever possible, I will aim to keep you in control of the processes as you and your soon-to-be-ex arrive at your own outcome. If the two of you do not come to a decision about how to divide your assets, I can represent you in mediation or I can offer my services as an impartial mediator. My insights and experience can help you reach an agreement that will help you move forward with as few lingering burdens as possible after the divorce.

The Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler A Professional Corporation provides skilled and efficient help. Call 310-246-3900 or contact me at to schedule a consultation at my Beverly Hills office. We can help with Property Division in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles as well as Assets and Debts in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles.