What you had before marriage in California will most likely be yours after you end your marriage. Anything you attain during your marriage in California will most like be divided between you and your spouse. The property obtained during a California marriage is known as martial assets which becomes a community interest upon divorce.
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Marital Assets is all property acquired during the course of the marriage, regardless of ownership or who holds the title to the property. Examples of marital assets may include, homes, cash, stocks, bonds, cars, pensions, and insurance. Upon divorce, all marital assets are considered community property to be divided by the spouses.
California Community Property
In California, any property acquired during marriage is a marital asset and presumed to be community property. Any marital asset acquired from a community property source is also presumed to be community property. Both parties to the marriage have equal rights to the control and management of community property. A spouse cannot give or sell community property without the consent of the other spouse. One spouse cannot dispose of nor transfer community property without the consent of the other. Further, the couple must jointly consent and participate in any leasing, sale, or encumbrance of community real property. Community property automatically passes to the surviving spouse when one of the spouses dies unless there has the couple has entered into an agreement and made other arrangements for the property.
Examples of Community Property
- Any income received by either spouse during the marriage.
- Any real or personal property acquired with income earned during the marriage. This includes vehicles, homes, furniture, appliances and luxury items.
- Any debts acquired during the marriage.
Examples of Separate Property
- All property owned by a spouse prior to marriage.
- Property obtained by a spouse after a legal separation.
- Any property received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage from a third party that remains separated from community property.
- Pre-marriage debts.
Often Forgotten Marital Assets that are Community Property
- Family Pet – considered personal property, the family pet will be given to one spouse.
- Family Photos – all photos taken during a marriage are community property and are divided by providing one spouse of copies while the other keeps the originals.
- Lottery Tickets – a ticket purchased during the marriage is community property and subject to an equal division between spouses.
- Life Insurance Policies – a policy which has a cash value typically referred to as whole life or universal life insurance policies.
- Airline and Credit Card Rewards – reward points accrued during the marriage are community property and subject to division in the divorce.
- Cemetery Plots – very often a valuable piece of real estate you will need an agreement to determine who has the right to burial.
- Capital Loss Carryover – a loss that exceeds the allowable deduction in a single year and which can be carried over to future years if the to reduce a tax liability.
- Retained Earnings – corporate earnings which were retained from a period prior to separation.
- Accounts Receivable – money owed to the community by another party.
- Trademarks and Patents – an asset that may increase in value over time.
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