Have you ever heard your buddies throw out the term Community Property and wondered what they are talking about? Did you know that generally speaking, your spouse is entitled to half of anything acquired during your marriage? With high divorce rates in California, anyone who is married or contemplating marriage should be very familiar with this term and its concept.
California Family Code Section 760 states, “Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.” What this means is that generally speaking, the money that you earn, the cars you buy, the houses you buy, etc., while married is considered half yours and half your spouses (even if you are the only one who paid for them!) Likewise, all of the debt that you accumulate while married is both the responsibility of you and your spouse.
Now of course, there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you and your spouse enter into a pre-marital agreement before marriage that states that each of you will keep your assets and debts separate, then any asset or debt acquired during your marriage will remain yours separately. Or if you or your spouse owned property or accumulated debt before marriage, then this will still be considered separate. Another example of things not considered community property is if you are left something in a will or given a gift.
It is important to keep this term and concept in mind when contemplating marriage or a divorce in California. Even if you were not aware of this concept before now, it still applies to your marriage. This has been a very general overview of community property. If you need more information on it and are considering a divorce or drafting a pre-marital agreement, feel free to call Wallin and Klarich at any time and we can go over it with you in more detail!