What Is “Community” Property?

California is a community property state, which affects how assets and debts can be divided in the event of a divorce. Community property means any property (including income) that is earned or incurred by either person during the marriage. With few exceptions, all property acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation will be considered community. The exceptions comprise ‘separate property,’ which is anything acquired before the marriage (and any income produced by those ‘separate property’ assets), or any gift or inheritance received at any time. In California, there is a presumption of community property if it was earned during the marriage; however, this can be rebutted by evidence. Property acquired after the date of separation is considered separate. The date of separation can be difficult to prove. It is not always the date one party moves out of the marital residence. The law says that it is the date one of the spouses has decided to end the marriage and objectively acts as if they are no longer in the marital relationship. There must be an act of physical separation along with other actions that can clearly show the decision of the spouse to separate.

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