Treatment of Property Acquired During Marriage

[a] General Rule

The most basic principle of the community property system is recognition that both spouses contribute to the marriage, even if those contributions are dissimilar. The system gives both spouses rights in the property accumulated during marriage. All property acquired during marriage by either or both spouses while domiciled in California is community property. Fam. Code § 760.

The presumption that property acquired during marriage is community property may be overcome by evidence that the disputed property is actually separate property. In general, overcoming the community presumption may be accomplished by:

1.Evidence of a written agreement between the parties that the property is separate despite the time of acquisition or form of title, or evidence of an agreement actually changing (“transmuting”) community to separate property.

2.Tracing the property to a separate property source;

3.Evidence that the acquisition was by gift, will, or inheritance, or that it was made after the parties separated.

A party who seeks to prove that property acquired during the marriage is their separate property must do so by a preponderance of the evidence.

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