California is a community property state. While most are aware of this fact, few actually know what “community property” means. If you are engaged, married, or in a domestic partnership domiciled in California, you want to know what community property means and how living in a community property state affects you.

What is community property?

California law defines community property as any asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or descent, and after the parties separate. When there is no written agreement requiring a particular division of property, the law requires that the community estate be divided equally

Quasi-community property is any type of property that was acquired by either one or both spouses or domestic partners when living in another state that qualifies as community property in California. Quasi-community property can be any earnings, real estate, or any other type of property. In a divorce or legal separation, quasi-community property will also be considered community property.

Mixed Community and Separate Property – Commingling

Sometimes, assets are part community property and part separate property. This is defined as “commingling”, as one spouse’s separate property is mixed or combined with the couple’s marital property. It can quickly become very complicated to figure out how to divide these types of assets.

A common example is selling a house owned by one spouse before marriage or domestic partnership and using the proceeds to put a down payment on a house purchased after marrying or registering a domestic partnership. The money earned from the sale of the house is separate property, so the down payment for the house is considered separate property. However, if mortgage payments are made while domiciled, the equity resulting from paying the home loan is community property. The equity of the house becomes commingled.

Contact An Experienced Kern County Family Law Attorney

For comprehensive representation in division of community property, call Azemika & Azemika Law. We will fight for and protect you and your family during the separation and divorce process. Contact us today online or by phone 661-322-8166 to arrange an initial consultation with our attorneys.

FAQs About Family Law

First, you or your spouse must be a resident of California for at least six months, and be a resident of the county you’re filing in three months in the county you’re filing in, before filing a dissolution of marriage. Once you file for divorce and serve the divorce petition to your spouse, you will have to wait about six months for your divorce to finalize.

Any property that qualifies as community property will be divided between both parties. However, any property that a spouse acquired before marriage or domestic partnership is considered separate property, and legally belongs to that spouse. Sometimes, these two can become intertwined, or commingled. With acute attention to detail, our divorce attorneys can help you sort out and protect your financial assets.

There are a variety of factors that the court must take in before deciding if spousal support should be awarded. Some factors include a spouse’s earning capacity, spouse’s standard of living established during marriage, age and health of the spouse, and whether there are children to support as well. A qualified attorney can help answer these questions for you in-depth and protect your interests.

In custody cases, the court does not let the child choose whom he or she lives with. The court may take the child’s wishes into consideration if the child is “of sufficient age and capacity to reason.” If willing, children aged 14 and older may express their opinions concerning child custody, but the court is not required to follow their wishes.


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