California is a community property state. Therefore, all property acquired by both spouses during the marriage is presumptively community property. Property acquired prior to marriage, after separation, or through gift or inheritance is generally separate property. There are so many nuances to characterizing property that it sometimes takes an expert to assist the court in determining what is community, what is separate and what may be a bit of the two combined in one asset. Tracing issues create complexity in property divisions.
Some examples of property division issues are:
A party has a house before marriage, uses community money to pay the mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance. What is the community’s interest in the house?
A party has a bank account before the marriage with a substantial sum in it and deposits earnings in it during the marriage, thereby commingling community funds with separate funds. How much is the party entitled to claim is separate property, if any?
A party has a car before marriage and uses community earnings to pay down the note. To what extent is the community entitled to reimbursement?
A party uses separate property funds to pay the mortgage on the house owned by the other party before marriage or to pay the debt of the other party acquired before marriage. To what extent is the party entitled to reimbursement from the other party?
A party uses separate property funds to pay the mortgage on a community property house, fix the roof and landscape the yard. To what extent is the party entitled to reimbursement from the community?
Determining how property should be divided, including credits for reimbursements, becomes complicated when parties blend their finances. And, property orders that are part of a judgment of dissolution of marriage are generally final. It is very important that you be advised of your rights prior to having your assets and debts divided by the court or by agreement.
The Law Offices of Kim Marie Staron can advise you as to your rights and options on these and other family law issues. Please call for a free half-hour telephone consultation or complete the Contact Us form below.