Whose Stuff Is It, Anyway?
With a couple of notable exceptions, California Law will presume that any property acquired by either of the spouses 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.
Prenuptial helps you keep what’s yours, should you want to keep it.
However, before a Marriage, spouses can agree that certain property acquired during the Marriage, which normally would have been Community Property, will instead be the Separate Property of only one of the spouses. Such an agreement is commonly known as a “Prenuptial Agreement.” Such an agreement can also decide and determine other things that may occur during a Marriage, and in a manner that could differ from what would otherwise be the case, under California Law, if there should not have been a Prenuptial Agreement.
Such an agreement would have to be found to be fair, and in writing; and, it will have to show that each of the parties to the agreement had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel during the making of the agreement; and that each of those parties knew and understood exactly what each of them was doing, as they entered into the agreement.