Dividing Marital Property in Orange County

Who owns what? After the divorce, who gets what? These are critical questions when a couple with assets, especially a home, gets divorced. We’ve come up with the answers to these questions in hundreds of cases over the years. Specific answers depend on the facts of each case but some general rules apply.

There are different types of property under California law.

  • Separate property is the property each spouse owned before the marriage or property that was acquired by gift, inheritance or through a will by a spouse during the marriage, or any property acquired after the date of separation.
  • Community property is, generally speaking, the property acquired by the spouses in the course of the marriage. There are exceptions to this rule. Community property is normally equally divided between the parties.

When either spouse owns a home, individually or together, an increase in equity may be considered either separate, community or mixed property depending on the facts of the case and a number of considerations, including, but not limited to,

  • In whose name the title is listed,
  • When and how the house was obtained,
  • Whose funds were used to buy the property, improve it and/or pay for loans of the property,
  • Any increase in value, and
  • Refinancing

For example under California family law the community (the two spouses) may obtain an interest in real property if their funds were used to improve the house or pay a mortgage on a residence owned solely by one spouse (the name of that one spouse is on the title).

All scenarios shall be discussed with your attorney to understand the separate, community or equitable interest in any property.

The equity that one spouse has on the date he or she adds the other spouse’s name on title to the house will generally stay his or her separate property unless a specific written waiver is made of his or her right to reimbursement.

There are similar results if one spouse spends his or her own money for a down payment on a house.

There are many variables when it comes to who owns how much equity in a piece of real property. If you live in Orange County and have questions about distribution of assets during a divorce fill out our contact form so we can schedule a phone call or a meeting at our Irvine office. We can talk about your situation, how the law might apply, and the best ways to protect your legal rights.

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