Can I Keep Gifts During a Divorce in California?

person holding gift box

When you and your spouse decide to divorce, you may already have an idea of how your assets will be divided. However, it’s vital to understand what is considered marital versus separate property in California, as this can vary from state to state. Unfortunately, there is often uproar for divorcing couples surrounding gifts that were exchanged between spouses or given to one spouse during the marriage. If you’re unsure how presents are divided during a divorce, you’ll want to keep reading. The following blog explores what you must know, and you’ll learn how a Los Angeles division of assets attorney can help you navigate this process.

How Are Gifts Handled During a Divorce?

The distribution of assets between spouses is often a highly contested issue, causing delays during the legal process. Generally speaking, California is one of the few community property states. As such, they consider any assets, property, and funds accrued during a marriage as marital property. When dividing these assets, the courts have decided to split all marital property evenly between spouses.

However, it’s crucial to understand whether or not gifts are viewed as separate property. In most instances, gifts are deemed separate property, remaining in the possession of the spouse who received this gift. For example, if you are gifted a motorcycle by a friend during your marriage, and your spouse does not use it, pay for maintenance, or pay for the insurance on the bike, you will likely be able to keep this asset as your own separate property.

Are There Any Exceptions to This?

There is a substantial caveat to this rule, however. If a spouse receives a gift from their spouse or another party and they comingle the present with marital property, it would no longer be considered separate property. For example, if one spouse’s father gifts them $10,000 and they place it in an individual account under their name only, they would likely keep the funds during the divorce. However, if they deposit the money in a joint bank account, it becomes marital property.

In some instances, what were once gifts may become “loans” from the gifting spouse during a divorce as a means to receive a portion of the process. However, an experienced attorney will be able to help determine what the truth is. This includes examining the nature of the gift and all factors that surround it. For example, if your spouse gifts you a check for $5,000 with the memo line reading “a gift for you,” it is unlikely they will be able to argue that they had intended to loan you those funds.

Handling property distribution can be tricky when you’re going through a divorce. As such, you must have a competent attorney to help protect the gifts you received during your marriage. At the Zitser Law Group, our legal team has experience handling high-net-worth divorces that are often complicated by gifts and inheritances. Contact us today to learn how we can help you during this tricky situation.

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