Kevin Qualls Family Law
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What happens if marital property in California is commingled?

In California, married couples have community property and separate property. In general, community property is property owned by both spouses. It includes anything they purchased or obtained while married, except in some situations such as gifts made to one spouse only or inheritances received by only one spouse. It also includes earnings made by each spouse while married. Separate property on the other hand is property solely owned by one spouse or the other before they married. However, are there cases in which separate property becomes marital?

Sometimes community property and separate property become so entwined that it is difficult if not impossible to determine which is which. This process is known as commingling. If property has commingled, dividing it after a divorce can be very complicated.

For example, one spouse may have purchased a house with his or her own money before getting married. Then, that spouse may have sold it after getting married, and used the proceeds from the sale to put a down payment on a new home. In general, since this down payment came from separate property, that money might remain as separate property. However, mortgage payments on the new house made by either spouse may result in the equity of the house being community property. The equity has been commingled.

If a couple is getting divorced in California, and has property that has commingled, they may not want to handle the property division process alone. Determining who has a right to what property can be very difficult in such situations. Professionals can provide legal advice to their clients about how the division of commingled property is handled in California, which this post cannot do.

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