What are commingled assets in a California divorce?

| Feb 22, 2021 | Divorce |

Property division is a common source for disagreement in a California divorce. Most people will be reasonably aware of what separate property and community property are. However, they might not understand when these two might mix and be considered commingled. This can be the foundation for disagreement as to how these assets are divided and lead to an extended battle. For this or any other concern in a family law case, it is wise to have competent and experienced legal assistance to be fully protected from the start.

Understanding commingling of community and separate property

Commingled property is part separate and part community property. While some couples can negotiate amicably and move on, others are not so fortunate and it grows more complicated. If, for example, one person was the owner of a property prior to the marriage and sold it for another property after the marriage. The money that was accrued from the sale of the first property is separate because it belonged to the one person. However, if there are mortgage payments, improvements and other shared expenses, then the boost in value will be community property. Couples might draw lines in the sand as to how much they believe they contributed to the increase in value, resulting in contentiousness during a divorce case.

This example can be used for other areas as well such as retirement accounts, pensions and a business. If one spouse started the business prior to the marriage, but both contributed to its improvements and success during the marriage, then that value increase may be viewed as commingled. In such cases, it can be hard to come to a precise figure for an equitable split. The relationship can largely dictate how these negotiations proceed. People on reasonable terms have a better chance of settling their dispute. Others who are on poor terms may not.

Property division can be difficult and legal advice might be key

Whether there are commingled assets or the bulk of the property is categorized as community and separate property, it is beneficial to have legal assistance to address the issues that inevitably arise. This is true for high-asset cases as well as situations in which the parties had less. When deciding to divorce, having experienced help from a firm that understands all areas of family law can be crucial to achieving a satisfactory outcome.