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Understanding the 3 kinds of California property

At the Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin, we know how confusing property can be when you live in a community property state such as California. When you decide to end your marriage or registered domestic partnership, you must determine who owns what and the value of those ownership interests.

As the California Court system explains, California recognizes the following three kinds of property

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

1. Community property

Community property refers to all property that you and your spouse or partner acquired during your marriage or registered domestic partnership. California considers this property as joint property even if only one of you acquired and/or paid for it. It likewise considers all money each of you earned as community property, as well as all debt you accumulated, even if one of you accumulated part of it without the other’s knowledge. Each of you has a 50 percent ownership interest in all such property and debt.

2. Separate property

Separate property refers to the property that you and your spouse or partner respectively owned prior to the commencement of your marriage or registered domestic partnership. It also includes all property that each of you received during your marriage or registered domestic partnership via inheritance, gift, etc. Separate property belongs solely to the person whose property it is.

3. Quasi-community property

Sometimes what would normally constitute separate or community property instead becomes quasi-community property under California law. In these situations, things can easily become very complicated very quickly. For instance, assume that sometime during your marriage or registered domestic partnership, you and your spouse or partner lived in a state other than California and one or both of you acquired property there. Assume further that you then moved back to California and this is the state in which you will obtain your divorce. Regardless of how the other state views the property you and/or your spouse or partner acquired while living there, California law deems it quasi-community property if it would have been community property in California had you acquired it here.

For more information, please visit this page of our website. 

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Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin
2225 E. Bayshore Rd., Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA 94303-3220

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