Pakpour Banks LLP provides legal services to individuals involved in property disputes.
California is unique in that it is one of the nine community property states (ten if you count Alaska, which permits couples to opt-in to the community property scheme).
Community property laws differ state to state. In California, community property generally means that each dollar earned by the parties during the marriage is divided in half at the time of divorce. Unless the parties agree otherwise, community property includes all property earned from the date of marriage to the date of separation. (See California Family Code section 760). Everything else is separate property, which belongs to the party who received it.
Separate property includes all property earned by the respective party before marriage, after separation, or during the marriage by gift, inheritance, or bequest. (See California Family Code section 770).
When parties divorce, the court must divide the “community estate” equally, unless the parties agree otherwise.
In family court, parties typically litigate over the characterization of the property (community or separate), value of the property, and how best to divide it (i.e., Who gets the house? Who gets the car? etc.). Similarly, parties dispute who will be liable for debts accumulated for the community, i.e., the mortgage, car loans, and credit card debt.