Transmutation of property is the transfer of property from community property to separate property, separate property to community property, or one party’s separate property to the other party’s separate property. A transmutation must be in writing to be enforceable upon divorce. When the characterization of property is before the trial judge, the court looks to the document itself to determine if a transmutation has occurred. The reason for the transmutation is somewhat irrelevant. As long as the document has the necessary language, the court will award the property to the spouse identified on the deed.
In California, transmutations occur when the parties sign a writing which changes the characterization of property from community property to separate property or separate property to community property. The courts will look to the writing itself to determine whether or not it is a valid transmutation. There are no specific words that need to used in order to determine whether there was a transmutation. However, there must be specific language to prove that the adversely affected party understood that through this signed document, he or she was changing the character of the property from community property to separate property. The court will only look to the document to determine whether a transmutation occurred. Evidence of conversations or understandings is irrelevant to the determination.
If one partner in a marriage signs a document which transfers ownership of his or her separate property to both parties as community property, the transferring party is entitled to a reimbursement under Family Code §2640 upon dissolution of the marriage. The reimbursement is based upon the value of the property on the date that the transmutation occurred unless the party, who transferred the property, signed a written waiver of the right to reimbursement.
In some circumstances even though a party was legally taken advantage of, if that party participates or benefits from the wrong doing, he or she may later be prevented from challenging the invalidity of the action. For instance, if one spouse’s name was forged on a document to transfer property, but the spouse whose name was forged received payment for that property, that spouse cannot later claim that the forgery invalidates the sale of the property.
If you need a divorce attorney in the Orange County area to discuss a transmutation issue or any other dissolution matter such as child support, custody, spousal support and property division, contact Treviño Law, Inc. Conveniently located off of the 5 and 405 freeway at Lake Forest.
Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for an Orange County divorce, it does not guarantee a result. There may be other circumstances that play a significant role in any dissolution which may alter the outcome of a divorce. A divorce lawyer will be knowledgeable about the significance of facts. Those factors should be reviewed and argued by a family law attorney in Orange County. Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship.