Community Property Law
Regardless of where the marriage took place, divorces that are filed in the state of California are governed by the concept known as “community property division.” (Unless a valid prenuptial agreement provides otherwise)
According to California community property law, with only minor exceptions, all assets and debt acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation is characterized as community property and subject to equal division as between the husband and wife.
Methods of Division of Community Property
Community property and community debt can be divided “in kind” or not “in kind.” “In kind” division basically means that a particular asset and/or debt is literally divided down the middle. Obviously it is not always possible to divide every asset down the middle unless the asset is sold. It is quite common in divorce cases for the parties to distribute assets according to the interests of the parties and to equalize unequal division with an “equalization payment.” A good example of this would be if one spouse wanted to keep the community residence. Assuming that the residence had equity, the spouse retaining the residence would owe to the “out spouse” an equalization equal to one half the total community interest in the property. This equalization could be traded off against other assets like retirement accounts, investment accounts, or cash on hand.
Claims for Reimbursement
Often parties will come into the marriage with significant separate property assets. Sometimes these assets are used to add to or to acquire property after the marriage. In a case where pre-marital separate property is used to add to or to help acquire a community property asset, when the parties divide that asset upon separation, the spouse bringing the separate property into the relationship is entitled to reimbursement dollar for dollar for the separate property used to improve or to acquire the community property. There are many other types of reimbursement provided for in a California Divorce Case. In complex high asset cases there could be complex webs of reimbursement claims that should be carefully analyzed by an expert California divorce lawyer.
If you are considering a divorce or have questions regarding the division of your marital estate upon separation or divorce call the attorneys at Griffith, Young & Lass for a free consultation at 858-345-1720
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