Tag Archives: Property Settlement

Community Property and Separate Property: What’s the Difference?

Laws governing real estate can complicate divorce matters. Be sure to get expert advice before making financial decisions.

 by Sara E. Milburn, Attorney at Law
Milburn Family Law, Laguna Beach, California

Many of my clients come into my office with the mistaken belief that after a long marriage, everything they own together is community property, and they are going to leave the marriage with one half of this property. Sometimes it is a shock for them to learn that is not necessarily the case.

Property issues in a divorce can be very complex. These are the basics to help you start working through your decision-making process.

Separate Property

In California, separate property is defined by Family Code 770. Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:

  1. All property owned by the person before the marriage,
  2. All gifts or inheritances received.
  3. The rents and profits the separate property earns.

Where this can become confusing is when the spouse who owns the separate property uses his time and talent (called “community effort”) to cause an increase to his or her own separate property. This must be more than a diminutive amount of time or effort. The court has wide discretion here. If the separate property was a stock account and the spouse was a … Read More “Community Property and Separate Property: What’s the Difference?”

When 50/50 Isn’t Always Equal in a California Divorce

Splitting your property in half, known as a “50/50 divorce,” isn’t always the best option for couples.

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

California is one of nine “community property” states as it relates to divorce. This means that assets and debts acquired and incurred during your marriage will be divided equally upon divorce. Exceptions exist for specific items received during marriage that are deemed “separate property” under the law. This includes gifts and inheritance.

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in divorce law. Spouses often believe their divorce will be easy if they just split all of their property in half, or “50/50.” While strong emotions present a barrier to resolving issues during a divorce, not far behind is the misunderstandings by couples about the concept of what is “fair” when it comes to dividing up assets and liabilities.

From extensive experience as a mediator, consultant, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer, I am a strong advocate for giving spouses a greater voice in the outcome of their divorce. I am also a strong proponent of ensuring divorcing spouses have as much information as possible to make the best decisions moving forward.

Although the courts are required to enforce the laws, spouses in a divorce, with … Read More “When 50/50 Isn’t Always Equal in a California Divorce”