Are you currently going through a divorce and at the separation of community property stage? Keep reading, this is for you…
According to the Judicial Branch of California, California law defines community property as an asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise or bequest, and after the parties separate.
Devise: leave (real estate) to someone by the terms of a will.
Bequest: To give or leave by will; to give by testament.
California is a community property state. This means that a marriage or the registration of a domestic partnership makes two people one legal “community.”
Property acquired during marriage is “community property.”
Debt acquired during marriage is “community debt.”
What are some examples of community property?
Some examples most aren’t aware of
We have another post discussing a public divorce and the potential division of a huge company, here.
When couples divorce or legally separate, the court has the ability to determine how the community assets will be divided. Of course, the court prefers the parties come to a mutual agreement but in the event that they do not, the court has jurisdiction to make an order for community property division.
The property acquired during marriage or a domestic partnership belongs to both people, no matter who was/is using it or who has control over it.
For example, Ashlee and her husband Ryan have been married for 14 years. Ryan bought her a brand new Mercedes Benz C300 for her birthday last year. He used the funds they have been saving for a rainy day. Needless to say, he didn’t buy it with his money, he bought it with “community” money.
What does that mean, “community” money?
Community property generally is everything that spouses or domestic partners own together. It includes everything you bought or got while you were married or in a domestic partnership – including debt – that is not a gift or inheritance.
Well wait, you said Ryan gifted Ashlee the car…
Let me introduce THE ARGUMENTS. This is exactly where the dispute happens. Does Ashlee get to keep the car because it was a gift from her husband or does the community own the car allowing Ryan to ask for the car back. This is one, of many community property disputes, when it comes to divorce.
Why? Why is that and how is that even legal?
In California, each spouse or partner owns one-half of the community property. And, each spouse or partner is responsible for one-half of the debt. Community property and community debts are usually divided equally.
Let’s see create some fictitious arguments for illustration purposes:
Ryan bought me the car and I haven’t made a single payment on it. Therefore, it is mine and my separate property.
I bought the Mercedes with community money and we are making payments on it. Just because Ashlee doesn’t physically write the check, doesn’t mean it is not her (debt) obligation. It comes out of our joint bank account!
What do you think? Who will prevail in this argument? Leave your comments below.Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from GAJP Law P.C., or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.