Managing Community Property during California Marriage

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

Do I Have to Let My Spouse Manage Our Community Property?

No. California and other community property states allow for both spouses to have equal control over community property. In addition, each spouse is responsible for protecting the other's interest in the property.  

One exception to this rule is if your spouse runs a business. In that case your rights are more limited but you are still entitled to income from the business and your spouse cannot recklessly waste the business' assets.

Can I Sue my Spouse for Not Managing Our Community Property Well?

The answer depends on what you mean by "well."  If you mean with good intentions, but bad results, then chances are you cannot sue.  

You can always ask your spouse to give an account of how your community assets have been managed, and if necessary, you can even get a court order to do this. But, if your spouse used reasonable caution in managing your money, and the investments or expenses were made with your permission, then you cannot sue.

However, if your spouse was reckless, or the investments or expenses were without your permission, then you can sue your spouse for improper management of your community property.

In addition, you are always entitled to a 50% share of the profits made by investing community property, whether or not the investment was made with your permission.

Can I Sue Even If We Are Still Married and Not Planning to Divorce?

Yes.  In some marriages, it may be necessary to protect the marital assets from waste, for example if one spouse gambles too much. You may also need to get a temporary court order if your spouse is wasting community money. An attorney can help you find the best way to protect your family's property that also fits with your personal goals.

Who Can Sue?

Only the affected spouse, or the heirs of a deceased spouse, can bring such a lawsuit. For example, the in-laws cannot sue on behalf of their son or daughter while the son or daughter is still alive. However, intentional destruction of community property or fraud may be subject to criminal charges in addition to the spouse¿s personal lawsuit .

What Will Happen If I Win the Lawsuit?

The result of your California lawsuit will depend on the facts of your case:

Should I Contact a Family Lawyer?

Even if you do not plan to get a divorce, you can still get help from a lawyer to protect your assets. A California family lawyer can help you identify the best way to solve your problems, and if necessary, can represent you in court. If you feel victimized by your spouses behavior, a lawyer can help you find the right ways to protect yourself.

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Last Modified: 07-24-2014 11:02 AM PDT

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