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The difference between community and separate property in divorce

Regardless of the level of wealth a couple possesses, dissolving a marriage can be a complex process. In community property states, such as California, all marital assets must be divided evenly between spouses. However, certain assets might not be deemed as marital property during divorce, and knowing the difference between community and separate property could prove essential to preparing a person for what comes next.

In California, all assets that are obtained over the course of a marriage are considered community property. This can include anything from incomes earned by either spouse to assets and property purchased with marital income. Any debts that are accrued by either spouse during a marriage may also be deemed community property, and will thus be divided evenly among spouses during divorce proceedings.

Alternatively, separate property consists of any assets a person owns prior to entering a marriage, or even an asset that is given to a person by another party, such as an inheritance. Assets that are deemed as separate property generally aren't subjected to the process of property division. However in some cases, if such an asset is commingled with marital property in any way during marriage, it may lose its separate identity.

Properly identifying all marital assets can be challenging, and those facing divorce may find it beneficial to seek guidance on how to proceed. By consulting with a family law attorney, a person in California could obtain assistance in navigating the process. An attorney can help a client gain a better understanding of what to expect during divorce proceedings and provide further assistance in pursuing the best outcome achievable.

Source: FindLaw, "Who Owns What in Marital Property?", Accessed on April 30, 2018

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