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Commingled property can complicate a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2022 | Family Law |

Just as every marriage is unique, so too is every divorce. Though common issues may present themselves in every divorce, the complexity and importance of those individual issues will vary from one couple to the next. Property division can be one of the most difficult problems to tackle, particularly if the couple’s assets don’t fall into clear categories.

California property division

Since California is a community property state, one of the first things a family court will do is classify a couple’s assets into one of two categories – separate property and community property. Separate property is property owned by one spouse only and remains with that spouse following the divorce. Community property is assets acquired during the course of the marriage – each spouse has a 50% interest in community property.

What is commingled property?

Property division gets much harder when separate property and community property are commingled, or mixed together in some way. For instance, let’s say one spouse owned a home of their own prior to the marriage. They sell that home and use the equity as the down payment on a new marital home. The marital home is community property, but is its entire value community property? The portion of the value represented by the down payment likely remains separate property.

Examples of commingled property can be found anywhere, like an antique chair previously owned by one spouse but refinished by the other. They aren’t always obvious and neither are the solutions for how to properly distribute them. If you’re considering divorce and have questions about how your assets will be divided, seek the assistance of an experienced professional to guide you through this complex area of family law.