Even if you don`t want to deal with these issues, or if you divided your property informally when you separated, the court will still have to make a formal order on these issues. In this section, you`ll find some basic information about California law regarding what happens to property and debts when spouses or domestic partners decide to end their relationship. In California and other states that allow matrimonial property agreements, there are certain rules that each spouse must follow for a matrimonial property agreement to be legally enforceable. For example, if you and your spouse lived in New York city for part of your marriage and you both worked there and bought a car. Now you live in California and are applying for a divorce or legally separated. The income from your respective jobs in New York plus the car are quasi-community goods, because if you had worked in California and bought that car, they would have been considered community property. Thus, in California divorce, the product and the car are treated as property of the community. Another agreement that is often concluded between the spouses is an agreement for the division or exchange of community property. A common property can be divided by written agreement so that each spouse owns a fraction of that property as separate property. It is important to understand how community property and common law ownership states differ in how distinct assets are distinguished.
Common law states define, for the most part, automatically what is registered in the name of a spouse only as separated property. This is not the case in community-owned states (such as California) where such a provision requires express and written consent. Property held as separate property is often mixed as the marriage progresses. For example, you can enter into a marriage and then receive an inheritance of shares that you then want to invest in your home to expand or modernize. Before you knew it, this property became part of the matrimonial property. However, with separate ownership agreements that are part of your living trust, this property can easily be identified as separate property and treated as such. Don`t let real estate concerns spoil the romance of your budding marriage, although it`s a good idea to know the difference between matrimonial and separated property before things go south. If you are concerned about separate property issues or are considering a divorce, you may benefit from speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer in your area. When a married person dies, 50% of the assets of the community belong to the surviving spouse, which means that the will of the deceased person only transmits the 50% he owned.
On the other hand, the will transfers 100% of the deceased`s separate assets because the surviving spouse does not have ownership of these items. Separate property is property owned or claimed by a spouse before marriage; property acquired by a spouse during the marriage by gift, development or filiation; and recovery of bodily injury suffered by one of the spouses during the marriage, with the exception of recovery for loss of earning capacity during the marriage. The matrimonial contract must be in writing and signed by both spouses. Both spouses must also be fully aware of the financial situation of the other that is included in the agreement. The ownership and debt part of a divorce or legal separation is often so complicated and the cost of a mistake is so high that you should talk to a lawyer before filing your papers, especially if you have something of value (or if you have a large debt). Keep in mind that you may not need to hire a lawyer to handle your entire divorce or legal separation, but only the property and debt portion of your case. There is a presumption that the property of a married person is common property. This presumption can be rebutted by a matrimonial contract if the property can be traced back to the time before the mixing to demonstrate that the property was separate.