Before marrying Jaxson, Taylor was a successful professional with a healthy bank account, a new car, and a comfortable bungalow in a nice neighborhood. Jaxson’s career was not quite as successful, and he was unlikely to earn as much as Taylor. So, Taylor and Grayson decided to maintain separate bank accounts to protect her finances. Six years later, Taylor learned the hard way that separate bank accounts are not always separate property in a community property state like California.
Understanding Separate Property
The general rule of thumb is that property brought into a marriage is usually the separate property of the party who brought it. Property acquired and income earned during the marriage generally are considered marital property, which means both parties own it.
With Taylor and Jaxson, Taylor made roughly $250,000 annually while Jaxson’s yearly income hovered around $100,000 per year. The couple together earned about $350,000 every year. No matter where this money was deposited, it became part of their marital estate.
There are exceptions to these rules. That’s why we can’t stress enough that you need to consult an attorney who has experience with property division in California divorces.
Where Taylor Went Wrong
It was undisputed that Taylor brought more assets into the marriage than Jaxson. She tried to keep her financial assets separate from Jaxson’s.
However, most of the income she earned after their marriage is community property. The fact that the income went directly to her separate account may not matter. As noted above, income earned during a marriage is considered the property of both spouses.
A prenuptial agreement could have attempted to maintain a separate property status on income earned during the marriage. Taylor could also consult an experienced divorce attorney as soon as she thinks divorce is in their future.
Also, Taylor and Jaxson sparred over how much money she had accumulated before they were wed. The money Taylor earned prior to marrying Jaxson was in her separate bank account, but post-wedding income had been deposited to this account also. Taylor could produce copies of her bank statements to prove how much was in her bank account before she married.
Determining Separate Property in a Divorce Isn’t Always Easy
Disagreements about property division can complicate your divorce and hold up your final divorce settlement. Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.
Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.