Quasi-Community Property in California
One of the matters you’ll need to settle as part of your divorce is property division. Who is going to get what? The question gets a little more complicated if you and your spouse lived somewhere other than California during part of your marriage and then moved here and filed for divorce.
Understanding Quasi-Community Property
You might see the term “quasi-community property” come up during your divorce proceedings. Quasi-community property refers to assets you and your spouse acquired during your marriage while living out of state that would have been considered “community property” if acquired in California.
The quasi-community property designation allows California courts to determine how your and your spouse’s assets should be split in your divorce. It is applied when both you and your spouse relocated to the state and are now seeking a divorce. If only one of you moved here and the other stayed in your home state, the quasi-community property doctrine would not apply.
Is Quasi-Community Property Treated Differently from Community Property?
As noted earlier, quasi-community property is property that was acquired during your marriage before you relocated to California and would be considered community property if acquired in California while married. It can include objects such as furniture or cars. It can also include your or your spouse’s out-of-state earnings. Similarly, community property is anything acquired during your marriage while residing in California. When it comes to property division, community property and quasi-community property are treated the same.
What’s Separate Property?
Another term you’ll come across during your divorce is “separate property.” Generally, separate property is anything you and your spouse acquired before you got married or after you became separated. Like quasi-community or community property, it can also include items like cars or furniture, provided that it was something you or your spouse had prior to your marriage.
In some cases, separate property can be things you or your spouse acquired during your marriage. For instance, an inheritance or gift given to only you or your spouse would be separate property even though you got it while married.
In California, quasi-community property is not considered separate property (California Family Code § 2502). Additionally, no “quasi-separate property” designation exists because separate property will always be treated as separate, regardless of the state it was acquired in.
What Considerations Does the Court Make When Dividing Property?
California is a community property state. That means the law presumes that anything acquired during the marriage was acquired jointly. Therefore, in a divorce, community property should be divided equally, meaning a 50/50 split.
Not all states follow the community property system. Most others are equitable distribution states. Under this doctrine, assets acquired during the marriage are considered marital property. Yet, they are not necessarily divided equally. Rather, they are split based on what is deemed to be fair and just for both spouses.
Because of the differences in the property division laws in various states, the quasi-community property provision allows California courts to apply the community property system to assets acquired out of state. Thus, if you or your spouse bought an item in the state where you previously lived (and if the state was an equitable distribution state), the equitable distribution doctrine would not apply. The community property doctrine would.
Before determining how to divide property, the court will first look at whether the asset is considered community (or quasi-community) property or separate property. It will then apply the appropriate provision to decide who gets what.
The court does not necessarily have to decide on property division in your case. You and your spouse can come to an agreement on how assets should be divvied up, giving you more control over how matters are settled. If you do have an informal arrangement in place, you must still have the court approve it.
Get Help with Your Case
Property division can be challenging. You must determine what is separate property and what is community property, which can become tricky when you’re evaluating items acquired after you separated or find assets that might be both separate and community property. If you are from out of state, things can be even more complex.
Allow our Los Angeles family law attorneys to assist throughout your divorce process. We’ll work to protect your best interests and future.