Putative Spouse Doctrine and the Division of Quasi-Community Property

Putative Spouse Doctrine

Putative Spouse Doctrine and the Division of Quasi-Community Property

In re: Marriage of Tejeda involved the putative spouse doctrine and the division of community property when one spouse is found to be a putative spouse.

When the couple got married, the husband was still married to his first wife. He did not tell his second wife that he was still married to his first wife. The husband’s divorce with his first wife ended two years after he married his second wife. The husband and his second wife were married for more than thirty years. During that time, the wife purchased multiple pieces of property solely in her name.

The second wife filed for an annulment based on the fact that the marriage to her husband was void. The family court found that even though the marriage was void, the wife qualified as a putative spouse. The trial court further found that even though the wife was not seeking the status of a putative spouse, she qualified as a putative spouse and therefore, all of the assets acquired during the marriage were quasi-community assets that should be divided in half. The wife appealed the order.

The Sixth Appellate District Court agreed with the trial court and found that once the putative spouse doctrine applies to one spouse, either spouse may receive a division of the community property.

NOTE: in 2016 the legislature changed this law so that in the future only innocent parties may receive a division of the quasi-community property.

Family Code 2251 (a) :If a determination is made that a marriage is void or voidable and the court finds that either party or both parties believed in good faith that the marriage was valid, the court shall:
(1) Declare the party or parties, who believed in good faith that the marriage was valid, to have the status of a putative spouse.
(2) If the division of property is in issue, divide, in accordance with Division 7 (commencing with Section 2500), that property acquired during the union that would have been community property or quasi-community property if the union had not been void or voidable, only upon request of a party who is declared a putative spouse under paragraph (1). This property is known as “quasi-marital property.”

If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address a putative spouse issue or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, child support, spousal support and/or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway.

Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for a divorce in Orange County, it does not address other factors which may play a significant role in a particular dissolution. Circumstances in your divorce may alter the results in your dissolution.

Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship. This is a legal advertisement for Treviño Law, Inc.

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