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What Is Quasi-Community Property?

What Is Community Property?

In the United States, the division of property in a divorce is regulated by state law. Most states determine property division issues according to principles of equitable distribution. However, about eleven states use what is known as the “community property” system to govern property and asset division during a divorce.

The “community property” system has its roots in European approaches to estate division, namely those used in Spain and France. Under community property principles, spouses have an ownership interest in property and assets that are part of the marital community estate. All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property unless it otherwise qualifies as separate property. As a result, with some exceptions, all property that a party owns at the time of a divorce is presumed to be part of the marital community estate.

In California, spouses are presumed to enjoy an equal fifty-fifty division of community assets. The spouses do not have an equal ownership interest in assets that are considered the separate property of the other spouse. California law provides that all property acquired prior to marriage and after separation is the spouse’s separate property.

In addition, property acquired at any time through gift, bequest, or device is deemed the receiving party’s sole and separate property. However, because all property owned at divorce is presumed community property, a party who wishes to claim an item of property is not community property has the burden of proving a separate property source.

What Is Quasi-Community Property?

Under California Family Code § 125, quasi-community property is defined to mean “all real or personal property, wherever situated, acquired before or after the operative date of this code in any of the following ways:

  1. By either spouse while domiciled elsewhere which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition.
  2. In exchange for real or personal property, wherever situated, which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in this sate at the time of its acquisition.”

Simply put, rules related to quasi-community property allow courts to adjudicate assets the parties acquired at the time they were not subject to California’s community property rules. The designation of property as quasi-community property is important to effect justice in divorce and probate cases involving assets located outside the court’s jurisdiction.

A court will designate property as quasi-community property if:

  • The parties changed their state of residence/domicile to California, and
  • The parties seek a change in their marital status after moving to California

For example, if the married couple bought a family SUV while living in Seattle, Washington, but later moved to California and subsequently got divorced, California courts would apply principles of community or separate characterization to the acquisition of the family SUV.

Quasi-community property is different from what is known as “quasi-marital property” which refers to property and assets acquired by a void or voidable marriage that one or more of the parties had a good faith belief that the marriage was legitimate.

Get Professional Legal Assistance from Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara Today

If you have been confronted with challenging family law issues, such as property division regarding assets located outside California, you can benefit greatly from retaining a legal professional with experience in California family law. At Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara, our attorneys are committed to preserving your property rights in intense divorce situations.

Contact our office online or call us at (949) 229-8546 to arrange a consultation today.

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