While Community Property is usually easy to define in a marriage, maintaining Separate Property ownership can become complex when either or both parties use earnings during the marriage to maintain or pay down those pre-marital acquisitions. Courts look at the following:
- Contributions: Even though one partner paid to acquire the property, the other partner has contributed funds for mortgage payments, carrying costs, or improvements;
- Usage: Both partners use the property regularly and treat it as if it was jointly owned;
- Promises: One partner orally promises the other a share in the property;
- Behavior: The partners pool earnings, use joint accounts, regularly purchase together, and share much of what they own;
- Services: One partner performs domestic services or the other such as housekeeping, cooking, or home maintenance, or contributes work to improvement of the property; and
- Sacrifice: One partner relinquishes career or investment opportunities in order to contribute to the relationship.
If you are separating within a marriage or domestic partnership, and you or your spouse have separate property ownership, the attorneys at BPR are available to help you unravel the intricate fabric of Separate and Community Property acquisitions.