- For Attorneys
Community property includes all earnings during marriage and everything acquired with those earnings. Separate property of one spouse includes gifts and inheritances given just to that spouse, personal injury awards received by that spouse, and the proceeds of a pension that vested (that is, the pensioner became legally entitled to receive it) before marriage. Property purchased with the separate funds of a spouse remain that spouse's separate property. If separate property is commingled with community property during the marriage, it may become community property, either in part or entirely, depending on the circumstances. Property purchased with a combination of separate and community funds is part community and part separate property, so long as a spouse is able to show that some separate funds were used. Separate property mixed together with community property generally becomes community property.
The Court makes a distinction between marital assets and separate assets. Marital assets are assets acquired during the marriage. Separate assets are asset which one party acquired prior to a marriage and maintained as separate property, property inherited during the marriage and property received as a gift by one party during the marriage. A party can turn a separate asset into marital asset by commingling the asset. Examples include: adding a new spouse's name to a bank account, car title, or deed to the home as joint tenants with right of survivorship.