Most property in a marriage is either Community Property or Separate Property. Community Property is anything earned or acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Separate Property is a property that was acquired before the marriage or property that at any time was given specifically to one spouse by gift or inheritance.
Because spouses are like partners, Community Property belongs to both spouses equally no matter who actually earned it. Each spouse is entitled to an equal share upon dissolution. Separate Property, on the other hand, belongs to just one spouse and the other spouse has no rights to it. Sometimes Separate Property can change and become Community Property. This is called Transmutation. Transmutation can occur, for example, if Separate Property is comingled with Community Property or if one spouse pays for the improvement of Separate Property through his or her employment during marriage.
Many people think of real property such as a house or a condominium as the only examples of property. There are many other examples of property such as: Accumulated vacation pay, pension funds, employee stock options, tax refunds, equity in insurance policies, workers compensation awards, personal injury awards that may have accumulated. All property, whether Community or Separate, must be included in a judgment for divorce. If any property is left out of a judgment there may be serious consequances for either or both spouse many years later.
Therefore, it is very important to hire a competent attorney who can guide you through this confusing area. Sometimes legal circumstances require a tough, aggressive attorney on your behalf and his skills can have a significant impact on your financial future. Our firm can provide you with a knowledgeable and compassionate divorce lawyer who can ensure that your best interest is served.
Practice Area: Family Law
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are Frequently Asked Questions we receive from families in need of legal help. Please contact us at our Los Angeles Law Offices to speak with an experienced CA family law attorney. We offer a free initial consultation.