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Community property

Community property

Community property in California

When it comes to dividing property between divorcing spouses, California operates under community property laws. Unlike “equitable distribution” laws in effect in other states, community property laws divide marital property equally between the parties. 

In California, whatever the wealth earned, even if, for example, only one spouse was employed during the marriage, the two spouses own all earnings equally. The same principle applies to debts in California, with both spouses liable for any debts accumulated during the marriage, even if one spouse was not aware of those debts. 

Equitable distribution means that if you are a top-earning spouse such as a medical professional, skilled tradesman, movie producer, or corporate professional and you gathered substantial assets via retirement plans, real estate, or subtle assets, your spouse could be designated to an allotment of half the value of the community assets. 

However, in practice, the distribution of community assets and debts does not always result in an equal distribution. Assets do not have to be distributed in kind. This is why you need the assistance of a skilled and seasoned family law attorney who will draw up a negotiation strategy and be able to equalize how the assets and debts are divided. Contact community property attorney Alan Mikshansky to ensure that you retain your separate property and that you get your fair share of the marital assets.

Separate Property or Community Property?

Identifying which asset is separate property and which is community property (also known as marital property) and, thus, subject to division of property in California can be complicated. 

For instance, a spouse bought a house just prior to marriage but the majority of mortgage payments were made by both parties during the marriage. Or the house is significantly underwater as a result of the real estate downturn and is not an asset at all but a liability that needs to be allocated to one of the divorcing parties to finalize the division of property portion of the dissolution case. Retirement accounts, child support, and health insurance are also frequently at issue as a result of a division of property portion of a California divorce and require the assistance of a family law professional to resolve.

Protecting Community Property Assets

Divorce and community property attorney Alan Mikshansky will assert your rights to your community and separate property, by way of settlement negotiations or litigation. Our goal is to help you keep and preserve as much of your assets as you can when you go through a divorce. It is common for us to retain experts who can provide an accurate valuation of assets—such as professional practices, businesses, and real estate—that would be most favorable to our client’s position. This allows us to properly prepare the clients’ cases for trial, which is especially helpful if the case does not settle.

Community property and debt division can become complicated should you take into account a spouse’s legal option for reimbursement, transmutations, credit, and quasi-community properties. It is important to hire legal counsel that is thoroughly experienced in financial and accounting matters. There are numerous presumptions under the California Family Code and case law that define the characterization of community assets and debts.

An additional significant factor is whether the marriage was short-term (not more than 10 years) or long-term. Communal property findings tend to be more frequent in long-term marriages. The length of the marriage can also determine the amount and length of spousal support.

California Asset Division Attorney

As a community property attorney, Alan Mikshansky has dedicated his career to representing clients in San Francisco and Sacramento family law cases including divorce, child custody as well as property and debt division issues of all financial amounts.

By scheduling an asset division consultation with Alan Mikshansky, you will get the guidance you need for your particular case, ensure that your separate property is protected and that you receive your fair share of the marital assets.

The Law Office of Alan Mikshansky is certified in Family Law by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization.

Let’s start by you letting me learn about your case


Call me today at (916) 692-8224, fill out the contact form, or send an email to set up an appointment to discuss your divorce situation and your options

Alan Mikshansky

Attorney in law

Let’s start by you letting me learn about your case