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What is Community Property vs. Separate Property?

What is Community Property vs. Separate Property?

California is one of the nine states that recognize community property law, which is similar in structure to a business partnership. Under community property, both spouses are treated as equal co-owners of property acquired during the marriage.

The Three Types of Property

There are three types of property classifications for married couples in California: community property, quasi-community property, and separate property. The California legislature also created rules that mandate how debt and property obtained during the marriage are labeled.

  • Community Property

When marriage leads to a divorce, property is split between the spouses based on its classification. The California legislature defines community property as "all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the married while domiciled in this state."

Your spouse also owns one-half interest in your regular income, provided it doesn't come from your separate property. This applies even if those earnings are in an individual account absent of your spouse's name.

  • Quasi-Community Property

Quasi-Community property refers to property owned or acquired in another state prior to your move to California. Under California law, this property is treated much like community property, even if it cannot be fully classified as such.

  • Separate Property

In contrast, "separate property" is property acquired before the marriage or after the divorce process and is not divided. Any property that came a gift or inheritance during the marriage is also considered separate property.

Your spouse also owns one-half interest in your regular income, provided it doesn't come from your separate property. This applies even if those earnings are in an individual account absent of your spouse's name.

For more information and to better understand your property's classification in California, contact The Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer at (626) 683-8113. We can help you with all aspects of the divorce process and make sure you and your property are protected.

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