When it comes to property division, the main factor is whether an asset is considered separate or marital property. In the state of California, an inheritance that is left to one party is always treated as separate property, even if it was inherited during the time of the marriage. This means that the inheritance would not be subject to marital property division rules. However, this only applies to the inheritance itself. If you use those funds to purchase marital property, such as a house or car, those assets may then be considered marital property.
Property division can be complex, and it’s important to know what is considered individual property and what is community property, so you have accurate expectations going into the divorce. Talk with our firm to find out how the property division in California works.
Is California a Community Property State?
Yes, California is a community property state. What this means is that both parties are considered to have equal ownership of any property acquired during the marriage. This is true even if the property is only in one person’s name. This is important because it means that unless there is another agreement–either through a prenuptial agreement or divorce negotiations–the courts will split any and all property 50/50 to ensure an equitable divorce settlement.
What Is the Difference Between Individual and Marital Property?
Whether an asset is subject to California’s community property laws is determined by whether it is considered individual or marital property. Individual property is generally property that was owned and held by one party prior to the marriage, and that was not used for any purposes within the marriage. For example, if you owned a house previous to the marriage, kept it, and didn’t live in it with your spouse, that could still be considered individual property.
What Is an Equitable Divorce Settlement?
An equitable divorce settlement in California is usually considered a 50/50 value split. This means that at the end of the divorce, both parties have walked away with 50% of the asset value that was contained in the marriage. However, this doesn’t have to mean that everything is sold and the profits divided. One spouse could get both vehicles worth $50,000, and the other could get that same amount in investments. It’s largely up to the two parties to agree to what is considered equitable. If that doesn’t happen, the courts will evaluate all of the marital assets and decide on how they will be divided.
If you want to make sure that you get everything you are entitled to in your divorce, it’s important to consult with a family law attorney. Our firm serves the Los Angeles area and has extensive experience with California’s community property laws. Call (213) 351-1000 to get started.