When I work with clients who are either contemplating divorce or are already in the process of going through a divorce. One of the major concerns that people often have attention on is the division of their assets. One interesting circumstance is if there has been an inheritance to one of the spouses.
Under California's divorce laws, certain types of property are considered community property and are divided between spouses when a marriage ends. Other types of assets are considered separate property and are excluded from division. An inheritance is one of the latter types of assets and is not included in the community property calculation.
- California is a community-property state. Each spouse owns a one-half share of any assets accumulated during the marriage. This includes property acquired from the day of the wedding to the date of separation. Under California law, community property includes real property and personal property.
- Property that either person acquired before the marriage or after the date the couple separated is not included in community property calculations. Gifts received by either spouse during the marriage are considered separate property for family- law purposes.
Inheritance and California Divorce
- California divorce laws classify an inheritance received during a marriage as separate property. The other spouse is not presumed to have a half-share of any money or property received in this manner, as would be the case if the inheritance were included with the marital community property.
Mixed Property and Divorce
- The line between community property and separate property can become blurred. If funds received from an inheritance were used to pay for something that is considered community property, such as the mortgage on a home or an asset the couple would use together, the asset could be considered a mixed one, or a combination of community property and separate property.
To avoid a situation where the inheritance (separate property) gets mixed with community property, it needs to be kept separate. For example, money received in this way should be deposited in a bank account with only one spouse's name on it. Placing the money in a joint account could result in the money being considered a mixed asset.
Consult A Family Law Attorney
- California divorce law can be complicated when it comes to determining which assets are community property and subject to division and which ones are separate property. The date of separation can affect whether an asset is considered community property. A person who is currently separated or who is considering a divorce should consult with a qualified family law attorney to find out what his or her rights and responsibilities are under the law. I offer a free initial consultation, where you can get your questions answered regarding your particular circumstances.