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Disclosure of Community and Separate Property during Dissolution

Posted on in Divorce

California divorce laws, California divorce attorneyIn California, all property that was obtained during a marriage is known as “community property.” During a dissolution of marriage, also known as divorce, this property must be divided equally between the two parties. However, there is another aspect of property that must be taken into consideration. This is known as “separate property.” What is this and must it also be disclosed during dissolution proceedings? Let us explore the realm of separate property and asset division.

What Is Separate Property?

First, let us discuss how property is actually defined. Property in and of itself is anything that can be bought and sold, such as a house, car or boat. It can also be anything of value. For instance:

  • Bank accounts and cash;
  • Security deposits on apartments;
  • Pension plans;
  • 401K plans; or
  • Stocks.

Separate property includes anything acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage. It can also be:

  • Rents, profits, or other money earned from separate property;
  • Money that was gifted to one spouse specifically through inheritance, gift, or bequest; and
  • Anything acquired after separation.

What Must Be Listed During Dissolution

During a dissolution of marriage, one of the main issues covered is the division of assets. It is extremely important that everything be disclosed. You may need to have the various parts of property assessed in order to find the fair market value. During the proceedings for divorce, it is a requirement to disclose all debts, property and assets, including, but not limited to:

  • Community property;
  • Separate property; and
  • Co-mingled property.

Consequences for Nondisclosure

If you are found to have not been entirely truthful about the property owned, whether it be community or separate, it may result in serious consequences. This can be seen in the case of the lottery winner who won the California Lottery, did not tell her husband, then divorced him a few days later. After all of the proceedings were complete, the husband found out accidentally that she had won and the court awarded the husband the entirety of the lottery proceeds as punishment. California Family Code 1101 pertains directly to property disclosure. It says implicitly that:

“This duty includes the obligation to make full disclosure to the other spouse of all material facts and information regarding the existence, characterization, and valuation of all assets in which the community has or may have an interest and debts for which the community is or may be liable, and to provide equal access to all information, records, and books that pertain to the value and character of those assets and debts, upon request.”

It is up to the court to determine whether or not the property is considered to be community or separate property. Therefore, even if you believe it is separate, it should be disclosed in order for the court to determine this to be true. If you do not and the court discovers it and finds that it is indeed community property, then the court may award the other party 50 percent or even 100 percent of the value of the property in question.

If you are considering divorce or have already begun the steps to dissolution, you may have questions on how to assess the property. You may also be curious as to how to list all of the property in question. Maybe your ex-spouse has been found to have not disclosed that boat that is in storage in an effort to keep it for themselves. During dissolution proceedings, it is helpful to have the assistance of an experienced legal professional. Doing so may save you time, money, and heartache in the future.

If you are interested in discussing your circumstances with a San Jose, CA divorce lawyer, contact the Ventresca Law Firm today at 408-395-8822 to schedule your free initial consultation. Conveniently located in Los Gatos, California, attorney Benita Ventresca has 35 years of experience will gladly help you navigate the waters of property assessment.


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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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