Updated on August 13, 2020
What happens to your separately owned property after getting married? Does it become community property automatically? How is property characterized after getting married?
California is a community property state. That means that once two people get married, all their belongings, whether personal property or real property, belong to the community. This is true even if only one spouse is the breadwinner and uses his/her earnings to purchase property. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Certain property remains a spouse’s separate property after getting married. This includes property gained by gift and inheritance.
Moreover, property that a spouse owned prior to marriage remains the spouse’s separate property after getting married. This includes all property, including real property, personal property, and business ownership. Indeed, property remains a spouse’s separate property even when the spouse has not obtained full legal title to the property until after marriage. For example, a spouse who only had an equitable right to property before marriage is deemed to have acquired that property before marriage. Accordingly, it remains separate property even though legal title is not perfected until after marriage.
If a spouse wishes to convert separate property into community property, the spouse must declare in writing that he/she is transmuting separate property to community property. Keep in mind that transmutation of the character of real property is not effective as to third parties unless a notice of transmutation is recorded in the county in which the property is located.
The same rules apply if a spouse wishes to transmute community property to separate property or the separate property of one spouse to the separate property of the other spouse.
The attorneys at Schorr Law have a great deal of experience dealing with title disputes, partition actions, and quiet title actions as well. We frequently deal with disputes concerning ownership of real property regardless of whether a party is arguing actual ownership is accurately reflected by record title. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today.