As a California resident, you likely know that we are one of the nine community property states in the U.S. This means that when you obtain a legal separation or divorce, you and your spouse or registered domestic partner must divide everything you accumulated during your marriage 50/50. But do you realize that California actually has three kinds of property?

It’s true. The California Court System lists the following three types of property it is possible to own in California:

  1. Community property
  2. Separate property
  3. Quasi-community property

Community property

Community property is fairly straightforward. It consists of anything you and your spouse buy, earn or otherwise acquire while married to each other. This is the property you de facto own jointly with him or her.

Separate property

Separate property is likewise fairly straightforward. It consists of the property that belongs to you and you alone because it became yours in one of the following ways:

  • You bought or otherwise acquired it prior to your marriage
  • You received it as an inheritance during your marriage
  • You received it as a personal gift during your marriage

Quasi-community property

Quasi-community property is neither straightforward nor easy to understand. Basically it consists of property that you or your spouse acquired while living in a state other than California. The catch, however, is that if California would have considered it community property had you acquired it in our state at that time, it is now considered quasi-community property in California.

You and your spouse or registered domestic partner must divide all of your community and quasi-community property exactly equally in your property settlement agreement when you divorce or obtain a legal separation. The separate property that each of you owns is exempt from this requirement. It always belongs 100% to you.