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Typical California Divorce Settlements about Bank Accounts

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In a California divorce settlement, all community property (any property or earnings acquired by either spouse during the marriage) is typically split equally between both parties. All separate property (any property acquired before the marriage, after separation, by gift to one party, or by bequest to one party) is typically confirmed to the owner. The division of property and the characterization of assets during a California divorce seems simple, but it can become increasingly complicated when assets are co-mingled. Co-mingling of funds is often the case when there are joint checking or savings accounts.

Most California courts will start with the presumption that all property acquired during the marriage is characterized as community property. If property acquired during the marriage and purchased using commingled funds is separate property, the spouse making that claim will need to show the court that when the property was acquired, community property expenses exhausted the community funds in the account. This process is called “tracing.” In complicated family law cases with substantial assets at stake, it is not uncommon for one or both parties involved to hire a financial expert to “trace” separate property claims. If the party cannot sufficiently prove to the court that an asset was purchased using separate property funds, the court will categorize the asset as community property. As community property, it will be divided equally along with other community marital assets.

When there are no disputes about whether a bank account is community property or not, the typical California divorce settlement will divide the bank account as of the date of the couple’s separation. Community bank accounts are usually divided equally.

Separate property bank accounts (whose ownership is not disputed) are generally awarded to the spouse who owns it a typical California divorce settlement. If you have questions about how to determine whether or not assets are community property or separate property, please get in touch with one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.

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