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Community property laws are upheld in California

A man in California who once made his living as a famous singer and performer recently won a Supreme Court ruling that relates back to California's community property laws. Under these laws, the majority of the things that are purchased while a couple are married are viewed as property that they both own equally, rather than as the property of one spouse in particular.

In this case, the man was put in the hospital with some heart issues, and he decided to buy a life insurance police in his wife's name. He then said that she was officially the only beneficiary and the sole owner of the the policy.

However, the two divorced, and he claimed that part of the policy should go to him, even though her name was on it. This went through a number of courts, with one overruling the initial ruling of a lower court, before ending up before the Supreme Court. They decided that the community property laws did apply and awarded the man a portion of the policy.

The only way that the half that the man owned could have been given up was if he had put in writing a directive to that effect and then signed it. The first ruling said that the written letter was not needed to give up his claim, but the most recent ruling upholds the original law.

Not every state has community property laws, so it is especially important for those who have moved to California from other states to know how these laws work and how they may differ from the regulations in other states. However, even those who were born in California should keep an eye on cases like this for examples of their rights.

Source: SFGate.com, "Frankie Valli wins divorce case in California Supreme Court" Bob Egelko, May. 16, 2014

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