California is a community property state. What this means is that assets and debts acquired during marriage are considered “community property,” and are to be divided equally in the event of a divorce. In California, there are three types of property classifications for assets and debts between spouses: community property, quasi-community property, and separate property. When a divorce occurs, division of assets between spouses is based on its classification.
California law defines community property as all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the married while domiciled in California. Keep in mind that “property” includes income, pensions, retirement account, and most other assets. This applies even if those assets acquired are in an individual account with only one spouse’s name.
Quasi-Community property refers to property owned or acquired in another state prior to one’s move to California. Under California law, this property cannot be classified as community property, because it was not acquired while one is domiciled in California. However, it is treated very much like community property for purposes of division of assets in a divorce.
In contrast, separate property refers to property acquired before the marriage and after the “date of separation.” Separate property is not divided during a divorce because it is not community property. Any property that came as a gift or inheritance during the marriage is also considered separate property.