California property can be tricky to understand, especially if you moved to our state only recently. But you certainly need to understand it if you and your spouse or registered domestic partner ever seek a California divorce.

The California court system explains that California actually has three different classifications of property as follows:

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

Per California law, any assets that you and your spouse or registered domestic partner accumulate during your marriage represent community property. This property belongs to you both in equal measure and must be divided between you 50/50 if you divorce. It makes no difference which of you actually bought and/or paid for the property. Likewise, any money either of you earns during your marriage and any debts either of you assumes constitute community property.

  1. Separate property

Each of you also owns separate property that belongs to you and you alone. Generally, your separate property includes anything you owned before you got married or established your registered domestic partnership. Any gifts or inheritances you receive during it likewise count as separate property.

  1. Quasi-community property

Undoubtedly the most difficult property concept to grasp is that of quasi-community property. This kind of property started out as separate property but then became community property due to a specific set of circumstances.

Take your house for example. If you owned it in your own name prior to the date of your marriage or registered domestic partnership, that makes it separate property. But what if that house had a mortgage at that time which you continued to pay down over the years? Since California law specifies that any money you earn during your marriage or registered domestic partnership constitutes community property, you made those mortgage payments with community funds. Consequently, a divorce court judge could easily determine that the difference in the value of your home now as opposed to the date on which you got married or entered into your registered domestic partnership represents quasi-community property that you and your spouse or partner must divide equally between you.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.