California law defines community property as any asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with his or her spouse. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, or during the marriage by gift, devise or bequest. The law requires that the community estate be divided equally if there is no written agreement to the contrary. This means that from the total fair market value of the community assets, the joint obligations of the parties are subtracted, yielding the net community estate. Unless agreed otherwise, each spouse must receive 1/2 of the net community estate.
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