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What is community property?

Many California residents may be aware that California is a community property state which may lead residents to wonder what community property refers to. Community property rules impact many different parties in California, including married couples and registered domestic partners so it is important to understand what community property is and how it impacts residents.

California is a community property state. Community property is important because it determines property division during divorce or at the end of the domestic partnership. Generally, property acquired during the marriage or domestic partnership is considered community property. Community property includes everything the couples owns together except for gifts or inheritances and also includes debts. In addition, community property includes earnings of both spouses and domestic partners that the couple earned during the marriage or domestic partnership. Community property also includes property purchased with the earnings of the spouses or partners.

In California, each of the spouses or partners owns half of the community property. Typically, community property, or marital property, and community debts are divided equally. There are additional types of property that spouses or partners may own such as quasi-community property or separate property which is why it is important to understand the different types of property and how they are divided in California if you are planning to divorce or end a domestic partnership.

Many California residents understandably worry about property division associated with divorce or the end of a domestic partnership. It can be helpful for couples to understand community property rules which will help them determine how property will be divided.

Source: California Courts, "Property and Debt in a Divorce or Legal Separation," Accessed Nov. 22, 2015

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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