Community Property

Determining if a particular asset is community property can be a complicated process. In the dissolution process, characterization of property is crucial and often litigated between spouses. An asset’s characterization as community property, separate property, or a mix of community and separate property will have a significant impact on how that asset is ultimately distributed in the divorce. If you and your spouse are attempting to divide your property The Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford will work with you to determine the characterization of property that is in dispute.

San Diego is part of a community property state. In California, generally all property, whether real or personal property, acquired during the marriage is community property. Generally, any property acquired by either party prior to marriage is considered separate property. There are several exceptions to the rule. For example, any property inherited by one spouse during the marriage is not community property; although in some cases may be transmutated into community property. Also, any property acquired post separation, but while they are still married, is generally not community property. Nor are gifts to one spouse from a third party considered community property, and whether a gift between spouses is separate or community property is also an issue. During the marriage, both parties have the right to access and manage the community property assets. In a divorce proceeding, the judge has the authority to divide the couple’s community property.

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At the time a divorce action is filed, both parties have a continuing duty to disclose all assets and debts along with their current income and expenses. This duty is automatic and spouses must exchange their financial information whether or not the other spouse requests it. As part of this process, the parties complete two forms – an Income & Expense Declaration and a Schedule of Assets and Debts. Under the California Family Code section 2100, it is the policy of the State of California to protect the community property assets that exist at the date of separation and to ensure fair and sufficient child and spousal support awards. Therefore it is crucial that each party is completely truthful and provides a full and accurate disclosure when completing these forms.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with Nancy J. Bickford, call us at (858) 793-8884.