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The Characterization Process

Learn about the process courts use to characterize property as separate property or community property when a marriage ends.


When a marriage ends, courts are often called upon to determine the proper distribution of property between spouses. Community property, which is owned by both spouses, is subject to division in a dissolution proceeding. But separate property, which is owned by one spouse, remains solely that spouse’s property and isn’t subject to division. Consequently, before making any decision regarding property division, a court must first characterize each asset as either community or separate property....