Tag Archives: Separate Home Purchased During Marriage

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?”