Usually when a property is acquired during marriage, meaning between date of marriage and date of separation, it’s community property and subject to division. There are all sorts of rules that pertain to real property. What the court will look at is when the property was acquired and what the property was used for.
When a couple lives in a property and pays the mortgage with community property funds during the marriage, the community acquires an interest in that property, generally. If we’re talking about income property, vacations, rentals, and things like that, there are all sorts of rules that the court is going to apply to each piece of property. The way that any good practitioner is going to approach a list of real properties is on a case-by-case basis — meaning as it pertains to the family residence, how is that residence divided, as it pertains to a vacation property, how is that property divided. The first question is, how was that property acquired, when was it acquired, and was there debt and who paid the debt on that property?
There are lots of rules that have to do with each piece of property and how it was acquired, how it was used, and who paid the debt, and there are general rules and exceptions to the general rules. Any good practitioner is going to take it on a case-by-case basis and either reach a settlement with the other side or take it to the judge so that the judge can divide the property equally.
If one piece of property is completely separate property — meaning acquired before date of marriage, after separation, or something that was inherited, like a vacation home that was kept solely in one spouse’s name during the marriage — it usually kept as separate property.