California is a community property state when it comes to divorce. This means that any property that you as a couple acquired during marriage is considered “community property” to be split according to agreement or court order. Likewise, any debt that is acquired by the two of you also belongs to the community and is referred to as “community debt.”
When entering into divorce discussions, one of the first things that you are going to need to do is identify all property that is owned by you and your spouse. You will then need to identify what is:
- Community Property
- Quasi-community Property
- Separate Property
We’ll talk more in-depth about what all of these mean in a moment. In order to identify all assets and debts, you and your spouse will need to gather a host of documents, including:
- Credit Card Statements
- Bank Statements for all Accounts
- Retirement Account Statements
- Stock Certificates
- Property Deeds/Mortgage Documents
- Auto/RV/Boat/Toy Contracts
- Business Contracts/Valuation Reports
- Credit Reports
- Tax Returns for 3 previous Years
- Property Tax Statements
- Utility Bills
- Budgets or Income/Expense Sheets
Once you’ve gathered these documents, you can start categorizing each.
What Exactly Is Community Property?
Generally, community property refers to everything that a couple owns together. It includes everything you bought or obtained while you were married — including debt — that is not a gift or inheritance.
It also includes all the earnings that either spouse (or both of you) earned during the marriage and everything bought with those earnings. You can usually tell if property belongs to the community by looking at the source of the money that was used to buy it. If the purchase money was earned during the marriage, the property belongs to the community.
What Exactly Is Quasi-Community Property?
Quasi-community property is any type of property that was acquired by either one or both spouses when living in another state that, had it been acquired while living in California would have been considered community property. In other words, if you or your spouse were living outside of California during your marriage, and you had any earnings, bought any real estate, or acquired any other type of property that in California would be community property, that property is called quasi-community property. And, in a divorce or legal separation in California, it will be treated as community property.
What is Considered Separate Property in a California Divorce?
Separate property refers to anything you have that you owned before you were married. Inheritances and gifts to one spouse, even during the marriage, are also considered separate property. Rents, profits, or other money you earn from your separate property is also separate property. Additionally, property you buy with separate property is also separate property.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to trace certain assets for purposes of determining the category a certain property will fall under. Having an experienced California divorce attorney on your side can help. By utilizing experts such as private investigators and forensic accountants, you can be in a better position to argue for assets and assign debts.
Whatever the nature of your family law case, let an experienced Family Law Lawyer at Sarieh Law Offices take care of the legal legwork for you. Contact Sarieh Law Offices today for a free 30-minute consultation. Call 714-542-6200 or fill out an online contact form to get started.