Divorce Consequences of Moving from a Common Law State to California

Divorce Consequences of Moving from a Common Law State to California

California is a community property state. This means property acquired by a couple during the marriage is community property for which each spouse has an equal interest. Other states such as New York and Connecticut are common law states. Property acquired by each spouse even during the marriage are the respective spouse’s separate property. What happens to a property purchased in a common law state if the couple moves from a common law state and established domicile in California which is a community property state? What if the couple continues to own properties in the common law state but initiates divorce in California after they have established domicile in California? The establishment of a California marital domicile may trigger what is called California “quasi-community property” law, under which the parties' common law separate property will be treated as if it were community property for certain purposes. This means quasi-community property will be treated as part of the community property estate and will be divided as if it were community property. “California's marital property laws are designed to provide for uniform treatment of quasi-community and community property when the parties have changed their domicile to this State and seek to legally alter their marital status in a California court.

Quasi-community property” is defined as real and personal property, wherever situated, which would have been community property had the owner spouse been domiciled in California at the time of acquisition, and any property acquired in exchange for such property. In order for the out of state property to be treated as Quasi-community property, both spouses must have established California as their marital domicile unless the non California domiciled spouse consents to jurisdiction in California and to the application of California marital law. Also, if the out of state property would have been treated as the spouse’s separate property if the spouses were domiciled in California at the time it was acquired, then the property cannot be quasi-community property.

Couples that own properties in common law state should obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney when contemplating divorce, legal separation, or annulment proceedings.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive former CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail kureyeslaw@gmail.com; visit at www.kenreyeslaw.com

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