Under California law, community property is defined as property acquired during the marriage (with certain limited exceptions). Property acquired prior to the marriage is presumptively considered separate property. Virtually every divorce proceeding involves the division of community property, to some degree. Of course, each case is unique in terms of the extent of property subject to division and the method of valuation of the assets in question. The importance of accurately identifying, characterizing, and valuing such property cannot be overstated. Accordingly, parties who are considering divorce are encouraged to contact an experienced San Diego family law attorney who can guide you through this extremely important part of any divorce case.
In a recent, complicated California divorce case, the parties argued over many financial issues, including whether the business founded by the husband before the marriage was subject to division as marital (community property) in divorce. The trial court awarded the husband the business as his separate property and also awarded the “community” an equitable allocation under two different prior court rulings. Among other things, the wife argued that the court erred by not concluding that the community owns all or most of the business in question. She claimed that the company became an entirely new business during the marriage, thus losing its characterization as separate property.