What Happens to Out-of-State Real Property Upon a Divorce in California?

Posted January 11, 2011 in Family Law by Mitchell Ehrlich.

Upon a divorce, it is often a complicated and challenging process to divide real property existing in another state.  The correct treatment of an out of state home or piece of land depends on how the property is characterized under California community property law.  Generally, most property acquired during marriage is considered community property.  At divorce, community property is divided equally between spouses.  However, property acquired during marriage while living in a non-community property state is not community property.  To find out what happens to this out of state real property, it is best to look at an example.

Let’s assume you and your spouse meet, marry, and reside in non-community property state.  While married, you purchase a home with the savings you both earned during your marriage.  Now, let’s assume, your spouse gets a job in California and you relocated without selling your home.  Years later, you file for divorce.  Under California law, this property is not community property as it was not acquired in a community property state.  Instead, this property is characterized as “quasi-community property.”

Quasi-community property is property (wherever located) that would have been community property if the spouses had acquired it while domiciled in California.  In a California divorce proceeding, quasi-community property will be treated the same as community property.  Thus, in the above example, the out of state home would be divided the same way as if it were located in California.  If located in California, the home would have been considered community property as it was acquired during marriage with martial earnings.  It is important to remember that California community property law is complex, and it is filled with numerous exceptions.

For more information on how your property would be characterized under California law, please contact us.  Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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