The dangers of the transmutation of separate property to community property
However, it is possible to change the state of community property to separate property, although there are reasons that you should be careful about making this decision.
Do you have separate property?Any property you own prior to marriage or entering a domestic partnership is your separate property. But even after entering the relationship, property you inherit or that is gifted to you is your separate property. Your spouse or partner can gift you property from community funds and it becomes your separate property; jewelry given on special occasions is a great example of this.
How separate property is transmuted into community propertySeparate property can be turned into community property, and your spouse/partner will suddenly become a 1/2 owner of what was once YOUR separate property. Property becomes transmuted when your spouse's name is added to the property, when community funds are used to maintain or care for the separate property, or when the separate property is commingled with community property. If this occurs, the community develops an interest in all or part of the separate property.
How to maintain your separate property as separate propertyMaintaining the separate property nature of property is actually very straightforward. First and foremost, do not put the name of your spouse/partner on the title to the property or account. Keep the title held in your name alone.
Do not use any community funds to maintain, repair or pay any of the costs on the property. Once you start using community funds, which generally includes the pay you earn from working, the community establishes an interest in your property.
Do not commingle funds. If you start putting property rents in your joint account, and then pay the property tax from that account - you have commingled funds. Keep a separate account for your separate property. If it is earning income that you want to contribute to the community, write a check from your separate account to the community account - that is now community property, but your separate property is not!
DisclaimerI guess I wouldn't feel lawyerly unless I wrote a disclaimer to this answer - after all, that's what we lawyers are trained to do. So here it is. Disclaimer: Trying to provide a complete answer to a brief question without meeting the questioner and without getting all the facts is much like internet dating. Despite what you have been told by the person you've met online (and don't they always put everything in the best light for themselves), once you meet them face to face you realize how much has been left out. People tend to bend the facts and there is always the other side to the story. So, this answer is about as valuable as the price that was paid for it. It should not be considered legal advice. It is meant as a general overview of how the law could apply to a very broad set of facts that may not have any applicability to the actual circumstances of the person making the question. It is hoped to provide some understanding of the field of law that could come into play.