Community Property

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Purpose: Upon dissolving a marriage, the courts are required to identify, classify, and allocate all assets and debts owned by the parties.

Equal Division: With rare exceptions, California requires that all assets and debts acquired during marriage be divided equally between the marital partners.

Disclosure: Parties to a dissolution of marriage are required to provide disclosure to the other party, of all assets and debts held.

Separate Property: Assets acquired from the investment of time, energy, and skill of a spouse after separation are ordinarily deemed to be separate property. But earnings derived from an investment acquired during marriage are community property.

Difficulties arise when the community property investment is a business primarily run by one partner, who would like to claim 100% of the profits to be his (or her) own. In these situations, the court must determine what part of the post-separation earnings are income attributed to the person, and which part is attributed to the business investment acquired during the marriage.

Family Residence: There is a body of law related to the management, control, and sale of a family residence. The family residence is frequently the largest single asset owned by the partners. Psychological reality suggests that it can only be possessed, reasonably, by one party or the other. Frequently, the home must be sold. Consequently, much litigation effort can be expended to determine who gets to live in, pay for, and be responsible for the home.