Question from Peguwood, Is the Down Payment from Monetized Premarital Inheritance Considered Community Property in a California Divorce?
Answer from AI:
In California, the general rule is that property acquired before marriage is considered separate property, while property acquired during marriage is considered community property. This includes income earned during the marriage and property bought with that income. However, the situation can become more complex when premarital assets, such as an inherited physical item, are monetized and used for a down payment on a house during the marriage.
Separate Property vs. Community Property
Under California Family Code Section 760, community property is defined as all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state. Separate property, as defined by California Family Code Section 770, includes all property owned by the person before marriage and all property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
Monetizing Inherited Physical Item
If a physical item that was inherited before marriage is sold during the marriage, the proceeds from that sale are typically considered separate property. However, if those proceeds are then used for a down payment on a house that is considered a marital asset, the situation becomes more complex.
Commingling of Assets
The term “commingling” refers to the mixing of separate property with community property. When this occurs, it can be challenging to determine what portion of the property is separate and what portion is community. In some cases, the entire property may be deemed community property.
If the inheriting spouse can “trace” the down payment back to the separate property source (the sale of the inherited item), they may be able to claim that portion of the house as separate property. Tracing involves providing clear and convincing evidence, such as financial records, showing the separate property funds were used for the down payment.
Consult with a Legal Professional
The division of property in a divorce can be a complex process, especially when it involves commingled assets. It’s recommended that individuals consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. A family law attorney can help clarify the laws and regulations, guide you through the process, and represent your interests.
Please note: This information is intended to provide a general understanding of the law. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Please consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.