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Property rights in California

Discussion in 'Division of Marital Property' started by axescot, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    When my wife and I got married, I owned a condo property for 13 years. She waived her rights to the property, ie the deed has only my name, married man, etc. She was a stay at home wife/mom for the first several years that we were married. This year she started a home business where she has made several thousand so far, nothing that we can live off of on its own but still good supplement money. She is a sole proprietor, I help with the accounting / business license side of the business, and we file joint taxes. So far, I have been putting all profits into a joint account, the same account that I use to pay all the bills, including the mortgage for the condo.

    I was just reading "All property you own before marriage is your separate property in California, as long as you keep it separate and do not mingle it with community property". Does this mean she has a right to it since I used a joint account to pay for the mortgage and despite her signing off her rights to the condo? Would setting up a separate bank account for the business now (6 months into it), allow me to keep full rights to the condo?
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Here's the general way that community property works. Once married pretty much all income and assets acquired during the marriage is community property. That means that once you were married, half your wages from your job and half of whatever income you have from a business belongs to your spouse.

    Property that you already owned before the marriage remains your separate property except to the extent you use either community funds or your spouse's funds to improve/repair the property, pay expenses related to the property, pay the mortgage, etc. So you have to be very careful to use only your separate funds to pay for any expense related to the property. This means that if you pay the mortgage with money from your salary that you get after the marriage you are using community property and in the process may be converting part of that property to community property, too.

    Pre marital agreements regarding property can help you address that problem and keep the property separate, but the details of that agreement matter a great deal. You'll want to consult a family law attorney ASAP to find out what you need to be doing here to keep the property separate. You may have already given her at least some community property interest in the condo, and the longer you keep doing things as you have been the greater interest she may end up with, up to getting half of it. So the sooner you see the lawyer the better off you'll be.
     
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Please elaborate. The first sentence tells us that, at the time you got married, you had owned this property for 13 years (e.g., you acquired the property in 2000 and got married in 2013). The next sentence, however, is vague as to time. Obviously, at the time you got married, your wife had not rights regarding your property that you owned prior to the marriage. Therefore, there was nothing for her to waive. So, how did she effect this waiver? You wrote that "the deed has only [your] name, married man, etc.," but I don't know what that means. The deed that you received when you bought the property 13 years before your marriage would not say "married man" (unless you were, at that time, married to someone else). Are you saying that, sometime after you got married to your current wife, your wife executed a deed of some sort?

    If, after you got married, you used community property funds to pay down the principal balance of a mortgage on your separate property or to improve the property, then your wife will have a marital interest in the event of a divorce. I would suggest googling "moore marsden" (the name of two cases that address exactly the issue you're talking about) and doing some reading.

    What's already been done cannot be undone. Also, separate bank accounts don't really inform the character of the money in the account. For example, I have a bank account in my name only, and my paycheck is deposited into it. My spouse has no access to that account. However, because my paycheck is community property, it matters not at all that the account is only in my name.

    As phrased, this is too broad. Not all "expenses related to the property" will give the non-owner spouse a community property interest. For example, paying property taxes or maintenance and upkeep will not do it.

    Also see responses to identical post at another site.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  4. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Less than a year after we were married, I refinanced the mortgage. At that time she signed a Interspousal Transfer Grant Deed and Interspousal Deed Instructions, which waives her rights to the property and put "my name, a married man as his sole and separate property". This community property rule is lame. I've paid interest, principal, taxes, everything for the condo for over a decade. She signed a contract to waive property interest. Up to this point, I've been the only one working. All financial responsibility and maintenance work has been on me.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You sure as heck didn't say that earlier. You have no idea how annoying it is to respond to a question only to find out later that a vital piece of information was missing.

    There's a computer acronym from long ago - GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out. In other words, the information you get here is only as good as the information you give.

    https://saclaw.org/wp-content/uploads/form-interspousal-grant-deed.pdf

    If your spouse checked the box conveying community rights to the property then, yes, it is your sole and separate property and she has no marital interest in it.

    Is that box checked on the recorded interspousal transfer deed?

    I'm guessing the point of this discussion is that you are heading for divorce.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    After years of seeing what spouses argue and fight about, I'm continued to be amazed.

    Look at yourself with deep introspection, you'll probably see something as warped (or worse) than the one with whom you're currently in dispute.

    The irony is, we expect perfection, yet we're as warped as the one we despise.
     
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    That covers you up to that point (unless it contains some very unusual provisions), but any community funds used for the purposes previously mentioned after that time will still give her a marital interest.

    Are you sufficiently familiar with the rules in place in non-community property states to say this intelligently? Also, there was nothing stopping you from entering into a prenup (or even a postnup) to prevent some of the "lame" applications of the law.

    Using community property funds, right?

    But was this "contract" (which I suspect wasn't actually a contract) prospective in its application (i.e., did it waive any community property interest that might come into existence after the time she signed it)?

    Since you didn't respond before this additional information was provided, you don't really have anything to complain about. Also, that's why, when there's an ambiguity in a post, it's better to ask for clarification before shooting off a quick and easy response. :)

    Correction: if the OP's spouse checked that box, then the property was, as of the date on which the deed was signed, the OP's sole and separate property and she had, as of that date, no marital interest in it. It's entirely possible, however, that she has subsequently acquired a community interest.
     
  8. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well sorry but you could have asked, as did one of the members who caught something that needed more explaining.

    Yes, it is.

    Well no, we're not. These questions came up because I was doing some research. We have been living in a house that is owned by my father. I am getting ready to purchase it but for much less than current market value. The reduction is a gift and my inheritance from my father to me. I would like to protect at least the inheritance portion, if not the whole house.
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Your original post asked about property that you owned prior to marriage. So, are you lying now about the reason for this thread, or were you lying in our original post?
     
  10. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes, it's one big plot to deceive you. How did you catch me? You must be one sharp cookie!
     
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  11. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    One who actually wants information would have attempted to clarify the discrepancy.
     
  12. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    One who genuinely wants to help another wouldn't accuse the other of deceit, ya big shark.
     
  13. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, my kids used to get mad when I caught them in a lie as well. They would try to turn it around on me. That ended by the time they were 14.
     
  14. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Like I said you're a sharp cookie.
     
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  15. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    If you are talking about the same property in both of those posts one of them is a lie.
     
  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I suspect I know the answer, but the OP would prefer to ignore the matter.
     
  17. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That's a big if, but I think you're on to something. Keep going with that Detective.

    P.S. just because your kids are lying rats doesn't mean everyone is.
     
  18. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    If they aren't the same piece of property then you simply have a communications problem. If they are the same piece of property you should tell us that because you are the only person posting here that knows.

    You also seem to have a reading disability as my kids I have not been mentioned in this thread. In fact, what you replied to was my first post in this thread.
     
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  19. axescot

    axescot Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I never said they're the same property and you shouldn't assume that. I said a condo and a house which makes sense that they're 2 different properties. Nor was I talking about you kids but shark boy's kids.
     
  20. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Then why in God's name would you bring up the second piece of property that had nothing to do with your post?

    When you reply to someone it is assumed what you write is to them.

    You may as well move on. I doubt you will get much help here because of your attitude to the volunteers that are trying to help you.
     
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