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Community and quasi-community property division in a divorce

When a California couple divorces, property division will be part of the process as they move forward with the end of their marriage. This can become complicated and lead to disputes. Some might claim that a certain piece of property is theirs alone, when it might be part of the marriage under state law and should be split between the two. It is important to know the difference about community property and quasi-community property, so the items can be divided fairly.

If the spouses own something together, it is community property. This will include anything that was purchased or acquired while they were married. Gifts and inheritances are not community property. The earnings that the spouses receive during the marriage is community property just like everything that was purchased with those earnings. The source of the money that purchased the items will frequently be used to determine if it was community property or not.

Debt is included in this calculation and is community property even if it was only one partner who accumulated it. Property will be split in half just as debt will be split in half. Often, a person might not realize how far their community property extends. A pension plan that the other spouse has will be considered community property.

Quasi-community property is property that was acquired by one or both spouses when they lived together in a different state and, if it was acquired had they lived in California, would have been community property. People who are under the impression that property and debt they acquired while married to the person and living in a state other than California will be protected from being declared community property must know that this will likely be considered quasi-community property should they reside in California and divorce.

As community property and quasi-community property laws show, the property division at the end of a marriage can be confusing and can lay the foundation for there to be extensive disputes over who owns what. A legal professional who understands these laws and other factors that will come up during a divorce can help with a case and how property will be divided.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Property and Debt in a Divorce or Legal Separation -- Community and Quasi-Community Property," accessed Jan. 22, 2018

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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