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Identifying Community Property: Divorce Disputes

By Henry F. Lewis on January 11, 2018

A large houseWhile going through a divorce, former spouses will inevitably have to divide community property. Many disputes arise over the nature of community property in a marriage and how that differs from separate property.

The Oakland, CA divorce lawyers of Gardner & Lewis, LLP would like to offer a brief overview of community property and the kinds of disputes that may arise when this property needs to be divided.

Defining “Community Property”

According to California state law, community property refers to any assets or debts that are accumulated during a marriage.
The exceptions to this are any property that the individual spouses owned separately before their marriage, or any property that was specifically gifted to one spouse during their marriage. Similarly, any property that is acquired after separation but before the divorce is finalized is considered separate property.

Examples of Community Property

Community property can take many different forms. Some examples of community property include:

  • Earned wages during marriage
  • Motor vehicles
  • Family homes
  • Home furnishings
  • Collectibles
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Interest earned on investments

In addition to the above, debt is often considered part of a married couple’s community property.

Division of Community Property

During a divorce, the community property must be divided in some fashion. The laws can vary from state to state, but in California, the law states that divorcing couples split community property equally (i.e., 50/50).

This can be easier said than done, of course. There are a wide variety of factors that affect can affect the way community property is divided, and disputes may arise about whether property is community property or belongs to just one spouse.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Sometimes during a marriage, separate property winds up being mixed up with community property. The opposite is true as well, which further complicates the division of property during a divorce. Issues regarding the transmutation of marital assets can be quite complicated.

Disparity in Incomes

In some couples, one spouse earns more than the other spouse. This can often factor into the division of community property, and may complicate matters since property may be split in ways that may seem unfair or uneven to address income disparities.

Size of the Estate

Large estates are more likely to prompt a 50/50 division of community property than small estates.

Child Custody

When children are involved, that can complicate matters further. When a spouse gains primary custody of a child, the division of assets must be carefully considered, especially since courts always want to respect the best interests of the child or children following a divorce.

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help in These Disputes

Property disputes are just one of the many issues that can arise during divorce proceedings that can be fraught and complicated to handle on one’s own. Emotions can run high in these matters, and it can be challenging to allow cooler heads to prevail. By working with an experienced divorce lawyer, you can receive objective legal guidance that works in everyone’s interests.

Contact Gardner & Lewis, LLP

For more information about your legal options following a divorce or separation, be sure to contact a skilled divorce dispute attorney today. The lawyers of Gardner & Lewis, LLP will help with disputes as they arise and ensure fairness during the legal process.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822