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What are the three types of California property?

If you are a California resident who is married or in a registered domestic partnership, but you are contemplating divorce, you probably are concerned about how to divide your property between you and your spouse or partner. As you likely already know, California is a community property state. Therefore, as explained by the California Court System, the law requires that all property and debts acquired by you and your spouse or partner during your relationship be equitably divided between both of you when you divorce.

Even if you and your spouse or partner agree on which property and debts should go to whom, it may not be that easy. Why? Because in California, there are the following three types of property:

  1. Community property
  2. Separate property
  3. Quasi-community property

Community property

Since California is a community property state, all property that you and your spouse or partner acquired during your marriage or partnership is “joint” property, even if only one of you bought it. In addition, all earnings by either or both of you during your marriage or partnership are “joint” property. Likewise, all debts assumed during your marriage or partnership are “joint” debts, not only if only one of you assumed the debt, but also if he or she did it without the other’s knowledge. All this “joint” property and debt belongs to each of you equally.

Separate property

Whatever property either of you owned at the time you entered into your marriage or partnership belongs solely to that person. So does any property either of you acquired after the date you separated. Any property that either of you received by gift during your relationship also is the separate property of the person so gifted.

Quasi-community property

Quasi-community property is the most difficult to define because it is so complicated. An example works better than an explanation. Assume that, at some point during your marriage or partnership, you and your spouse or partner lived somewhere other than in California. While you were there, one or both of you acquired property. Then you moved back to California and this is where you will be getting divorced.

It makes no difference how the other state regards the property you or your spouse or partner acquired there. California law considers it to be quasi-community property if, at the time it was acquired, it would have been community property in California. This information is provided for educational purposes, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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