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Yelman & Associates


San Diego Division of Community Property Attorney

In California, community property is any property acquired or earned by either party during the marriage or domestic partnership – with some specific exceptions. Inheritances and gifts, as well as present or future income resulting from the inheritance or gift, remains separate property and belongs to the acquiring spouse. In some instances, damages from personal injury actions remain separate property. Additionally, earnings that are acquired after a legal separation are characterized as personal property (caveat – check with your attorney).

Characterizing Community Property

  • In order to divide marital property, it first needs to be characterized as separate property or community property (or in some instances pertaining to annulments, quasi-marital or quasi-community property).
  • In order to correctly characterize the property, if it is unclear whether the property was acquired prior to or after the marriage date, it may be essential to determine the date of acquisition.
  • It is also important to specifically note the date of the separation (the date of the legal separation, not necessarily the physical separation, which is usually different) in order to categorize property acquired after the separation.
  • It is essential to make sure that a spouse’s separate property is not commingled or transmuted into community property.
  • Pensions – if one spouse has a pension that was earned during the marriage, part or all may very well be community property; however, it is important to ask your lawyer for specific attention because the pension must be “joined” before it can be divided.

Valuation of the Marital Estate

It is essential for the property in the marital estate to be properly valuated before it can be divided. The spouses may come to an agreement as to the value of the marital property, and this can ultimately save much time and cost. Indeed, the court prefers and encourages the parties to come to their own valuation. If the parties cannot agree, the court will make the final decision based on the evidence presented.

  • Property should be valuated “as near as practicable to the time of trial.” Ca. Fam. Code Section 2552(a).
  • When the parties cannot come to their own valuation, the court has wide discretion to make that valuation.
  • Once the marital estate is valuated, division may proceed.

Division of the Marital Estate

Once again it is to be noted that the court has broad discretionary power to participate in all aspects related to the dissolution, including the division. The court, of course, will always seek an equal division of property:

  • California Civil Code, Sec. 4800 specifically requires that in a dissolution of marriage, all community property be divided equally between the spouses.
  • All debt incurred during the marriage is community property; it is irrelevant if only one spouse’s name appears on the item.

Division of Assets

Assets vary and may include:

  • Investments
  • Stocks, bonds
  • Stock options
  • Cash, receivables
  • Insurance policies
  • Collectibles
  • Businesses
  • Marital home
  • Vacation property
  • Real property
  • Art collections
  • Cars, boats, planes, other vehicles
  • Retirement benefits
  • Numerous other

The division of marital property has one basic goal: each spouse is to get an equal share of the net value of all community property assets. Division may be creative; one spouse may receive the home while the other receives the business – as long as it is equal in value.


  • “I wanted you to know how much I appreciate the representation that you provided me with during my divorce proceedings. In my experience, what sets you apart is that you clearly put your heart into your work. Your advice was excellent and you were always there for me . . . This was instrumental in helping me reach a fair settlement.  I thank-you from the bottom from my heart. “     P.A. San Diego

Complimentary Phone Consultation with an Attorney:

Division of marital property may be a very difficult and involved process, or it may be relatively simple and quick, depending on the circumstances. The San Diego Divorce Lawyers at Yelman & Associate have helped countless clients in all aspects of their divorce, from the initial consultation to the separation and finally, the official dissolution. Additionally, after the dissolution, modifications may be requested. We have the experience and knowledge to help you in a most compassionate, caring and professional manner. For a complimentary phone consultation with a Yelman & Associates Family Lawyer, call (619) 282-1107, or (760)480-8400.

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(619) 282.1107
(760) 480.8400


Yelman & Associates

3333 Camino Del Rio South
Suite 140

San Diego, Ca 92108

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