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Are reimbursements for education possible in California divorce?

Property division is a frequent topic for dispute in a California divorce. While the law is relatively clear on basic matters regarding this issue in the state, there are always areas of nuance that might be somewhat confusing. One that might arise and should be understood is if one spouse contributed to the education of the other spouse and if, at the end of a marriage, there can be reimbursement for this as part of the settlement. Knowing what the law says about this issue is critical for both parties.

If there were payments made with property - quasi-community or community - and it was for education or training or to repay a loan for education or training, it is possible that there can be reimbursement. This is true whether it occurred while they resided in the state or not. There are limitations regarding reimbursement. There will be community reimbursement for these educational or training contributions if they provided substantial enhancements to the party's earning capacity. The amount will be paid with interest at the current legal rate from the conclusion of the calendar year when they were made. If there was a loan taken during the marriage and it was for education and training, it will not be part of community liabilities, but will be assigned to be paid by the party who took it out.

Should a disposition based on this law be deemed unjust, the reimbursement will be reduced or modified. Reasons can include: there was substantial benefit from the assistance, but it can be rebutted that the community did not substantially benefit for contributions made fewer than 10 years before the proceeding and that there was substantial benefit if it was more than 10 years before its commencement; the training or education was offset by the other party also getting education and training with community contributions; the training or education allowed the party who was getting it to take part in gainful employment that significantly lowers the need for support that would be needed in other circumstances.

With a divorce, there will undoubtedly be disagreements between the parties that led up to the decision to part ways. As the process moves forward, it is not unusual for spouses to want to be reimbursed for assisting the other spouse with education and training. Based on this law, it is possible. Having legal assistance from either perspective is imperative and a qualified divorce lawyer can help.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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