When it comes to property division, California divorce law can become complicated.
For example, let us say that you and your spouse have separated pending divorce. What was the date of separation and why is this important?
You probably know that California is a community property state. Any property that you and your spouse or domestic partner acquired during your marriage is community property; in other words, it belongs to both of you equally. Community property includes items that can be bought or sold, such as the marital home and furnishings, your vehicles and even your clothing. Bank accounts, cash, retirement plans, stocks, a patent or a family business, all of which have value, are examples of other types of community property.
Separate property refers to anything you owned before you married or registered your domestic partnership. Even if you received an inheritance while married, the court will consider that separate property.
Considering the date of separation
The date you and your spouse or partner separated is important because it allows determination of whether a certain asset is community property. This also pertains to debt. If you acquired a credit card after you and the other party separated, the date of separation will help the court establish that it belongs to you alone and is not community property.
Commingled property is a mixture of separate and community property. For example, perhaps you have a retirement benefit from a job you had both before your marriage and after. Contributions you made before marriage are separate property. Contributions you made after marriage are community property. However, your separation date becomes important here because, after that date, your contributions to the retirement account once again become separate property.
The more assets you have, the more complicated California property division is likely to become. You will no doubt have questions about separate versus community property, but you can turn to your team of legal and financial advisors for answers.