8 April 2014 0 Comments

Community Property s. Separate Property

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What’s ours? What’s mine?

While a couple is married and accumulating property, little thought is given to whether their property belongs to one spouse or the other, or to both of them. But once a couple is considering divorce or has already filed one, the question of who gets what becomes a priority.

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is deciding who gets what. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, California law governs how property and assets are split between the two parties.

Property can be divided into two categories: 1) community property and, 2) separate property.

California is a community property state when it comes to divorce proceedings.

Community property, which is owned jointly by both partners, is most property acquired during a marriage, except for gifts or inheritances. Examples include wages, salaries, housing and investments. It is divided equally upon divorce, annulment or death. Each spouse reports 50 percent of total community income on their tax return when filing separately.

Separate property, on the other hand, is owned only by one spouse – property that was brought into the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. Each spouse reports 100 percent of their individual or separate income on their tax return when filing separately.

If you want to retain the separate nature of your property, it is important that you don’t commingle the property with community property; otherwise, it may be difficult to trace the property in a way that proves that it is separate property.

Commingling occurs when funds that belong to one party are mixed with the funds of another party, especially where one party has a responsibility to keep them separate. In the context of marriage and divorce, commingling refers to instances where separate property is mixed with community property, such that the separate property can no longer be distinguished from the communal resources. Example: putting a down payment on a family home from your inheritance from your father.

If you are ready to start the divorce process, contact the family law offices of Holstrom, Sissung & Block. We can work with you to solve the complicated issues of divorce that are now before you. We are located in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County for your convenience. You can also visit us online and submit our contact form.

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