The State of California generally upholds the presumption that a property acquired in joint form during marriage is community property, for the purposes of divorce or division of property (Fam. C. § 2581); this is regardless of whether the property was purchased using CP funds or of the spouses’ separate property funds. Thus, a property in joint form will be treated as CP, unless the presumption is rebutted through written or documentary proof that the property is a separate property of one spouse [Fam. C. § 2581 (a), (b)].

However, if there is no such agreement, or there is a lack of admissible documentary proof to support the rebuttal, the spouse who contributed to the purchase of the property using funds that are traceable to SP source (such as gifts), may still have relief through the right to reimbursement, and “the amount reimbursed shall be without interest or adjustment for change in monetary values and may not exceed the net value of the property at the time of the division” (Fam. C. § 2640).

Property division in marriage and in dissolution cases is a complex matter. Proving separate property interests and claiming reimbursement rights would be best handled by an expert in divorce and family law; it is best to work with one in order to make sure that property rights are protected.