COMMUNITY PROPERTY MONEY USED TO PAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE'S EDUCATION IS REIMBURSABLE
This is a guide to assist you with understanding your reimbursement rights when the community paid for your spouse's education during the marriage. It is designed to assist you in understand the basic principles of the law and to help you to know what questions to ask your attorney.
Community Property Defined:"Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property." (California Family. Code Secion. 760.)
Education paid for by the community during the marriage.There are many couples who agree that one spouse will go or return to college to obtain a degree or professional training while the other works to pay for the community and education expenses. It happens too many times that the spouse who gained the education wants a divorce shortly after finishing school and becoming employed at a much better rate than the spouse left behind.
When this happens California law provides for the reimbursement of the education expenses paid by the community where the community did not benefit from the education of that spouse. Thus if you worked to put your spouse through college, graduate school or other training that increases that spouses earning capacity and your now educated spouse wants to divorce you, California Family Code Section 2641 provides for reimbursement of community funds spent for this purpose. If loans were obtained for this purpose such debt is assigned to the spouse receiving the education.
Rebuttable Presumption found in Family Code Section 2641:It is important to understand that the statute provides a rebuttable presumption that the community has not benefited from an education received within 10 years of the divorce. Thus the statute shifts the burden to your spouse to prove that his or her education paid for by the community actually benefited the community. Shifting the burden of proof to the benefited party makes your work easier. But be aware that the presumption does not mean that you are prohibited from proving that the education expenses did not benefit the community if the education was received longer than 10 years before the divorce. Your spouse could have obtained the education paid for by the community and then not taken advantage of it during the marriage.
Benefits of Such a Reimbursement:Having a right to reimbursement for education expenses is likely very helpful to the spouse without the education who may not receive spousal support for a long enough time to reeducate themselves due to the shortness of the marriage. Where spousal support is a taxable event to the spouse receiving support, reimbursement rights are part of a property division and not taxable. The reimbursement could provide the spouse who didn't have the opportunity to obtain an education before or during the marriage the ability to improve their own marketability.
Conclusion:You should seek legal advice right away if you are considering a divorce or your spouse, who you supported and whose education expenses you contributed your earnings to during the marriage, has told you that they want a divorce. Our offices offer a free half hour consultation. Call or email us today.