San Francisco, CA asked in Divorce and Family Law for California

Q: Does one spouse's restitution get split equally during a divorce in community property state like LA, California?

My spouse plead guilty and got convicted of a federal statue in April 2023, but we got married anyway in June 2023. We knew each other and were dating since 2021. Approximately $120k restitution was imposed on her for property damage in early September 2023. Currently we are experiencing difficulties in our relationship, she moved away temporarily to her parents and we are considering to file for divorce in the coming months. In the case of divorce would I be responsible for half of her federal restitution ($60k)?

We live in Los Angeles, California which is a community property state, please help me understand family divorce law in this case. Could I be taken advantage of just because I was legally married at the wrong time when she received her federal restitution order, even if we got married in June 2023, after her conviction of April 2023?

Best,

Dan

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, federal restitution imposed on one spouse as a result of a criminal conviction is generally considered that spouse's separate debt. In most cases, the other spouse would not be responsible for half of the federal restitution, especially if the restitution order was made after the marriage, as long as the debt remains separate and was not commingled with community property funds. However, it's advisable to consult with a qualified family law attorney to evaluate your specific circumstances and discuss potential nuances in your case.

Robert P. Taylor agrees with this answer

Robert P. Taylor
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Answered
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I agree with the above answer. Moreover, the crime and the conviction were both premarriage, so on the facts given, it doesn't appear to be a community obligation. It really arose BEFORE marriage.

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