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Understanding Quasi-Community Property

What Is Quasi-Community Property?

If you think “quasi-community property” is one of those technical-sounding terms of legal jargon that was invented to confuse people, you wouldn’t be completely wrong. However, quasi-community has a subtle but significant role in the division of marital assets and liabilities upon divorce.

Under California law, the spouses of a marriage that ends due to death or divorce are entitled to an equal share of what is called the “community estate.” California Family Code § 63 defines “community estate” to mean both community property and quasi-community property.

So what is community property, exactly? Under California Family Code § 760, community property refers to “all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state.”

California Family Code § 125 defines “quasi-community property” as “all real or personal property, wherever situated, acquired…by either spouse, while domiciled elsewhere which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state…[or] in exchange for real or personal property, wherever situated, which would have been community property [if acquired in California.]”

Therefore, the primary distinction between quasi-community property and quasi-community property is where the parties lived at the time they acquired property. Simply put, community property covers property a married couple obtains while living in California, while quasi-community property includes property a married couple obtained while residing outside California.

Why Is This All Necessary?

If both community and quasi-community property are equally divided when a marriage ends, then why the distinction? Historically, the definition of “community property” in California broadly covered any property the couple acquired in another state if such property would qualify as community property had they acquired it in California. Thus, the old definition of community property used to include the definition of quasi-community property.

Although quasi-community property and community property are conceptually indistinguishable regarding the division of marital assets in California, quasi-community property was historically treated differently when it came to dividing liability for marital debts. The former rules relating to quasi-community property treated quasi-community property like separate property for purposes of determining liability for debts.

However, California law regarding community property changed in 1984, treating quasi-community property like community property for the purpose of determining liability issues as well.

According to the California Law Revision Commission, reversal of the old quasi-community property rule “is consistent with the public policy of California that the marital unit shared its assets and its liabilities. This policy is particularly important in the area of creditors’ remedies not only because it promotes sharing of common obligations but also because it helps ensure equal access to credit by both spouses and protects California creditors who extend credit in reliance on the availability of marital assets to satisfy debts.”

Therefore, quasi-community property is the vestige of a time where one spouse had more rights than the other spouse when it came to acquiring property and credit. By treating community property and quasi-community property the same for purposes of property division and debt division, the spouses have equal rights and responsibilities for the assets and financial obligations they acquired as a married couple.

You Can Count on Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich

If you are going through a divorce or other legal matter involving California family law, you should seek legal counsel to preserve your legal rights an interests. At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, we have experience helping families in Riverside County find fair and effective solutions for their legal disputes.

For a consultation, call us at (951) 687-6003 or contact our office online today.


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