Community property vs Separate property

Family holding hands around gavel

How Does the Family Court Characterize Assets? The Family Court is tasked with characterizing and dividing assets pursuant to the marriage time rule. The date of marriage to the date of separation establishes the “community”. The Court will characterize all assets and debts of the community.

Community Property vs Separate property:

Under California law, divorcing spouses divide community property equally and keep their separate property. Community property is assets or debts acquired during a marriage. Separate property is acquired before a marriage.

Under California Family Code 760, the community property may include:

  • Income earned by spouses during the marriage (marital earnings)
  • Property purchased with marital earnings.
  • The marital home (including mortgages)
  • Basically, any assets earned during the marriage or bought with marital earnings are considered community property and are divided equally in a divorce.

Under California Family Code 770, separate property may include:

  • Property acquired before the marriage.
  • Gifts or inheritance received before or during the marriage.
  • Income earned from separate property.
  • Assets or debts conveyed as a spouse’s separate property by the other spouse.
  • Specific examples of assets or debts that may be considered as separate property include:
  1. Separate bank accounts
  2. Inheritances or gifts
  3. Gifts between spouses
  4. Money damages from tort claims

Separate property can become community property through commingling or transmutation. Spouses can agree to legally transmute separate property as community property, or vice versa. In a divorce, spouses may attempt to claim the separate property as their own. Distinguishing community from separate property is difficult without proving rights of ownership. It’s important to trace your property through financial and property documents like deeds, bank statements, etc.

Issues dealing with property allocation are complicated. You need an experienced attorney by your side. Livingstone Law APC. has the experience and knowledge necessary to provide you quality legal representation at an appropriate and fair price. Call or email Livingstone Law APC today and see how we can help you.

(619) 630-2164. If you have an emergency and need to hire an attorney you can call or text (619) 702-1513 or email

*The information provided above is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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