California is a community property state

Generally speaking, the court must divide community property in a manner it deems to be "just and right."

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Part II of Division Four of the Family Code of California outlines what is considered separate property and what is considered community property. In order for something to be considered the separate property of one spouse, the spouse claiming the property must prove that the property is his or her separate property. The court will presume that all property is community property, unless it is proven otherwise.

California Community Property Law

Section 760.  Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.

Section 761.  (a) Unless the trust instrument or the instrument of transfer expressly provides otherwise, community property that is transferred in trust remains community property during the marriage, regardless of the identity of the trustee, if the trust, originally or as amended before or after the transfer, provides that the trust is revocable as to that property during the marriage and the power, if any, to modify the trust as to the rights and interests in that property during the marriage may be exercised only with the joinder or consent of both spouses.
     (b) Unless the trust instrument expressly provides otherwise, a power to revoke as to community property may be exercised by either spouse acting alone. Community property, including any income or appreciation, that is distributed or withdrawn from a trust by revocation, power of withdrawal, or otherwise, remains community property unless there is a valid transmutation of the property at the time of distribution or withdrawal.
     (c) The trustee may convey and otherwise manage and control the trust property in accordance with the provisions of the trust without the joinder or consent of either spouse unless the trust expressly requires the joinder or consent of one or both spouses.
     (d) This section applies to a transfer made before, on, or after July 1, 1987.
     (e) Nothing in this section affects the community character of property that is transferred before, on, or after July 1, 1987, in any manner or to a trust other than described in this section.

Courtesy of: California Constitution and Statutes


California Law: Community Property & Separate Property

Section 770.  (a) Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:
     (1) All property owned by the person before marriage.
     (2) All property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
     (3) The rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.
     (b) A married person may, without the consent of the person's spouse, convey the person's separate property.

Section 771.  (a) The earnings and accumulations of a spouse and the minor children living with, or in the custody of, the spouse, while living separate and apart from the other spouse, are the separate property of the spouse.
     (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the earnings and accumulations of an unemancipated minor child related to a contract of a type described in Section 6750 shall remain the sole legal property of the minor child.

Section 772.  After entry of a judgment of legal separation of the parties, the earnings or accumulations of each party are the separate property of the party acquiring the earnings or accumulations.

Section 802.  The presumption that property acquired during marriage is community property does not apply to any property to which legal or equitable title is held by a person at the time of the person's death if the marriage during which the property was acquired was terminated by dissolution of marriage more than four years before the death.

Section 803.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, whenever any real or personal property, or any interest therein or encumbrance thereon, was acquired before January 1, 1975, by a married woman by an instrument in writing, the following presumptions apply, and are conclusive in favor of any person dealing in good faith and for a valuable consideration with the married woman or her legal representatives or successors in interest, regardless of any change in her marital status after acquisition of the property:
     (a) If acquired by the married woman, the presumption is that the property is the married woman's separate property.
     (b) If acquired by the married woman and any other person, the presumption is that the married woman takes the part acquired by her as tenant in common, unless a different intention is expressed in the instrument.
     (c) If acquired by husband and wife by an instrument in which they are described as husband and wife, the presumption is that the property is the community property of the husband and wife, unless a different intention is expressed in the instrument.

Courtesy of: California Constitution and Statutes