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In California, absent a valid agreement, marital property rights must be determined in accordance with community property law. All community property of the marriage (assets and debts) must be equally divided.

Characterizing the status of property rights as "community" or "separate" property of each spouse is the starting point to property division. There is a general presumption that all property acquired during the marriage, absent an exception, is presumed to be community property (meaning, belonging equally to each spouse). However, this general presumption does not negate the form of title presumption. The "form of title" presumption requires that when spouses name is solely listed on the title document of property acquired during the marriage (with the knowledge and consent of the other spouse), the record title creates a rebuttable presumption that the property is the separate property of the title holder. Like all presumptions, the title record can also be rebutted with evidence that the transfer of property to the "title" spouse unfairly advantages that spouse - this creates a presumption of undue influence. This then requires the advantaged spouse to prove that the transfer was freely and voluntarily done. Some property characterization, and valuation, matters can be complicated and necessitate the need for experts.
In addition, spouses are entitled to seek credits, charges, and reimbursements in a dissolution action.

Like spousal support, the date of separation can be an important fact that must be decided due to the impact it has on property division. There are a host of statutes, and case law, that allow for parties to be reimbursed, given credits, or assessed charges.

If you would like to learn more about property characterization, valuation, or division matters, do not hesitate and immediately contact Singer & Associates to set up a consultation to better understand your situation.

Each case has unique facts and circumstances and this area of law is always changing. Readers are encouraged to seek independent legal advice regarding their individual situation and legal issues. Contact the attorney's of Singer & Associate Law Office to set up a consultation.