Under California law, property acquired during marriage, including income, is generally considered community property. Community property is property that the court considers owned by both spouses, and each spouse is entitled to their fair share during a divorce. In the event of a death, a surviving spouse’s share is usually 100% of the community property unless agreed upon otherwise in a legally binding document such as a will, trust, pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. After legal separation, each spouse is entitled to their 50% share of the community property subject to certain rights and reimbursements that the court will sometimes offset.
After legal separation, property acquired is no longer considered community property and is now considered separate property. Separate property, again such as income, is considered the sole property of the earning spouse. Thus, it’s important to protect your financial privacy after legal separation. You can do this by getting a post office box if your mail regularly comes to the community home. Secondly, if you use a community computer or an e-mail that your spouse has the password to, you should get your own computer and highly consider setting up a new e-mail account. Even if information is deleted from a computer or account, it is still possible for deleted information to be retrieved. In most cases you should also be setting up new financial accounts at new banks or credit unions to protect your separate property funds.
If you have recently separated from your spouse or are planning to do so, it’s important that you contact an experienced family law attorney for crucial guidance on how you can protect your privacy and your property.
Authored by IRWIN & IRWIN.
IRWIN & IRWIN Family Law is located in Fullerton and Newport Beach, California. We provide a full suite of family law services from divorce litigation, divorce mediation, child custody issues, domestic violence restraining orders and representing minors in court. “Every situation is different, and some come with very complex financial issues. Our legal team is here to support you during a very troubling time and prepare you for court, or to at least help negotiate or mediate the issues out to establish an equitable legal resolution,” says Kelly Irwin, Senior Litigator at the firm.