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DID YOU KNW BY ATTORNEY F.M. ZAVALA

A basic rule of a community property system is that all property acquired during marriage is community property unless it comes within a specific exception; the major exceptions to the basic community property rule are those relating to separate property. Thus, there is a general presumption that property acquired during marriage by either spouse other than by gift or inheritance is community property unless traceable to a separate property source (Fam C § 760). This is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof; hence it can be overcome by the party contesting community property status. Since this general community property presumption is not a title presumption, virtually any credible evidence may be used to overcome it, including tracing the asset to a separate property source, showing an agreement or clear understanding between parties regarding ownership status, and presenting evidence that the item was acquired as a gift. In re Marriage of Haines (Cal. App. 4th Dist. Mar. 21, 1995), 33 Cal. App. 4th 277, 39 Cal. Rptr. 2d 673, 1995 Cal. App. LEXIS 259.

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