Category Archives: What is Community Property?

What You Need To Know About Prenuptial Agreements

Whose Stuff Is It, Anyway?

With a couple of notable exceptions, California Law will presume that any property acquired by either of the spouses What do you know about a prenuptial agreement?in a valid Marriage, during that Marriage, will be owned one ­half by each of those married persons. That means they will already own it, on a 50/50 basis, and from the time it is acquired. It doesn’t have to wait to be awarded to either of them; it will already equally belong to each of them. Such property is officially known as “Community Property” in California.

Notable exceptions would be items of property that are acquired by either of the spouses by way of gift or inheritance, even during a Marriage. Such property would be and remain the “Separate Property” of the acquiring spouse. On the other hand, property that has been acquired by either of the spouses before the Marriage; or acquired by either of them after the date that either of the spouses might separate out ­of ­the ­marriage from the other, would also be the Separate Property of the acquiring spouse. Even during the Marriage, property that is bought with the Separate Property of either of the spouses, will remain the Separate Property of the acquiring spouse. Generally, all property acquired by either of the spouses by way of the labor of either of them during the Marriage, will always be the Community Property of the Marriage, and therefore owned equally by both of the spouses. Continue reading What You Need To Know About Prenuptial Agreements

How Green Was My “Valli?”

The “Four Seasons” Of Dissolution

A recent clarification of some basic principles of Community Property and Family Law, comes to us in the form of a ruling by our own California Supreme Court,

Frankie Valli
Singer Frankie Valli

regarding the Dissolution of the Marriage of Frankie Valli, the well known songwriter and lead singer for the group The Four Seasons, who is also lately epitomized in the musical, Jersey Boys.

One of the aims of a Petition for the Dissolution of a Marriage in California, is a request that a Court determine a description and value for each item of the “Community Property” of the Marriage, in order that it shall be ultimately and equally divided between the estranged husband and wife. That identification process is known as “Characterization.” Community property will be that property acquired by either spouse after the date of the Marriage, and before the date of the “Separation” of the spouses; and by the way of the labor of either of them; or the proceeds from, or exchange of, things that were already Community Property.

Generally, all other property owned by either spouse, would be that person’s “Separate Property.” Separate Property would also include items of gift to either spouse, as well as things inherited by either, at any time, including during the Marriage.

Big Girls Don’t Cry…Unless…

During the Valli Marriage, Frankie took 3.75 million dollars, acquired during the Marriage through his labor, and placed it in a joint bank account with his wife; and used it to purchase an insurance policy on his life, making his wife, Randy, not only the sole beneficiary of the policy, but also the sole owner of the policy itself. Randy thus claimed that the policy and its proceeds were already her Separate Property, and therefore not divisible by the court as Community Property. Not only was the policy solely in her name, it was also given to her benefit by her husband. Continue reading How Green Was My “Valli?”

Prenuptial Agreement

United, We Stand!

Several “hot” news stories have prompted a lot of calls and questions to my office. Here are a few facts Prenuptial agreementsand some law.

Before marriage, spouses can agree that certain property acquired during the marriage, which normally would be community property, will instead be the separate property of only one of the spouses. The “prenuptial agreement” must be fair and in writing; and, it must show that each of the spouses have the opportunity to consult legal counsel. In other words, it has to be seen that each of the parties knew what he or she were doing. Continue reading Prenuptial Agreement

What Exactly will a Court be doing, once a Petition is filed, that requests a Dissolution of a Marriage?

Basically, a Court will be required by the law, to restore the parties to the status of single persons (as distinct from legalmarried persons); and to identify and evaluate the “Community Property” of the Marriage; in order to see that it is equally divided between the former husband and wife.

If there are children, the Court has to determine with whom they will reside, at any particular time of a given day.  If Child or Spousal Support is appropriate, the Court will determine the time, amount and manner of payment of such support, and by whom.

As elsewhere stated in these articles, there are really only two ways to settle any legal matter, including a dissolution of a marriage: the parties will agree, and the Court will accept their agreement as a basis for the Court’s Judgment ; or, the contentions of each of the parties will have to be “tried” before the Judge, in order for the Judge to determine the one and only correct set of facts; and in order to then apply the appropriate law to the correct facts of the matter.

What is “Community Property?”

Community Property will be the earned product of the Marriage.  The labor of each of the Parties of the Marriage, will be a Community asset, and not that of just one of the spouses.  Property, or any other value, acquired by and through the labor of either of the spouses, during the Marriage, will be the Community Property of each of them, that means that it is instantly owned by the Community —- it’s not to be awarded in the future —- it is owned outright, form the time that the right to it comes into being.

For purposes of the application of this rule, the Marriage begins when the couple is pronounced as “Husband and Wife” during the solemn ceremony that unites them (see:What Makes a Marriage, Anyway?”).  That means: if you win the lottery on the night before your wedding, it’s Separate Property; and if you win the lottery on the on the moment following your wedding ceremony, it’s Community Property, under our Common Law.”