During a divorce, a couple must figure out how property, debt, and assets will be distributed equally among themselves. In California, everything that the couple obtains is referred to as community property under some exceptions. On the contrary, a property that only legally belongs to an individual is cited as separate property. Hence, divorced couples will have to agree on the division of these properties, or these matters can be handled by the court or an arbitrator. As it was previously mentioned, there are some clear exceptions to California’s community property statutes.
Inheritance Counts as Separate Property
Under California law, an inheritance received before a divorce is considered to be the separate property that of that individual. The reason being is because an inheritance is usually a family bestowing that is meant to be received by the member of a certain family. Although in a legal marriage, the acquisition of large could count as community property, the sole intent of an inheritance is to be allocated to a single person. Therefore, there is no dispute that could be filed if an individual received an inheritance before divorce proceedings.
However, if an inheritance has been received by an individual, it can still be challenged in the court as community property if a problem arises. To combat this issue, you will need to provide financial and legal documentation that proves that your inheritance is your sole property and was given as such.
There Could Be an Exception
Of course, to every legal precept, there is some unimaginable form of loophole to avoid abiding by California’s laws. Even though it has already been established that inheritance is separate property, there is still some degree to ambiguity to this rule. California maintains that property accumulated after the date of physical separation is also considered to be separate property. While this is indisputable, there could be some degree of uncertainty of the actual date of separation between a couple. If a former spouse claims that you have received a large sum of money during your marriage, the issue will likely be taken to court if a resolution cannot be met. Thereafter, the court will draw on any evidence it receives and makes a decision on the actual date of separation.
This process is important because it complicates the matters concerning your inheritance if you received it after the date of separation. Obtaining an unusual amount of money, even if it’s truly an inheritance, will be brought to question, especially during the process of a bitter divorce. Therefore, while the law refers to an inheritance as separate property, be prepared to duly face any problems that may arise if your former spouse disputes your claim that you have received inheritance money. Fortunately, a division of assets attorney can help.
There Can Be a Change
Before a divorce is finalized, the former couple can agree to change their community property in separate property, or vice versa according to our division of assets lawyers. This agreement will have to be in writing, so the court can have an original document. Under California law, you can opt to label your inheritance as community property, only if you are willing to and can come to that agreement with your former spouse.