Property Division in California Divorce

Property division in California divorce is complicated.  California is a “community property” state.  (one of Nine!)  This means, in general, everything acquired after the date of marriage, and before the date of separation, is community property.  All gifts and inheritance is always separate property, whether before, during or after marriage.

Although these concepts are relatively simple, certain transactions during the marriage – such as simple refinance or mixing funds from a separate account- complicate matters.  Sometimes it is necessary to hire the services of a forensic accountant to help paint a clearer picture.

In a divorce, what’s separate and what’s community causes a lot of disagreements.   For example, what if you purchased a home prior to marriage?  What if you made payments on the house during the marriage from the joint account?  How about if your aunt gave you the downpayment?  Suppose you paid off your student loans from the line of credit?  These issues complicate matters.

What about stock options?  Unvested stock options?  What about retirement accounts and pensions?

If either of you own small businesses, matters become more complicated if you cannot agree on the value  or the disposition of the businesses.

In addition, if you own homes together, there may be separate property reimbursements, or Epstein credits or Watts charges.

Or, if you owned a home prior to marriage, but the community paid off some principal, there is a community interest per Moore-Marsden.

In general, property division is a 4-step process: identification, characterization, valuation and division.

Many issues arise in the the area of property division – contact us to help you.


If you have any questions about the property division in California divorce, please contact us for a consultation.


If you have any further questions or need additional information about Property Division in California Divorce or other services, please do not hesitate to email office@purposedrivenlawyers.com or call (626) 765-5767.