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Charges, Credits And Rights To Reimbursement Overview

Under What Circumstances Are Reimbursements Granted To A Party In A Divorce?

Reimbursements in California divorces are determined by specific statutes and case law. Reimbursements are not granted based upon a sense of fairness. Fairness alone is not the determining factor, although fairness is inherent in the logic relied upon in many cases and statutes. If a right to reimbursement is not provided for in a statute or in a case, it cannot be granted by the family law courts.

There are a number of exceptions, nuances and gray areas in this area of the law. Reimbursements and credits may require determining:

  • When the money was spent
  • Who spent the money
  • For what was the money used
  • Whether the asset acquired still exists
  • Whether any money spent on an asset caused the asset’s value to increase
  • Whether the money spent was on a community or separate
  • Whether the expenditure was a misappropriation or a breach of fiduciary duty
  • Whether an asset was used by one party after separation
  • What was the value of the use

Epstein Credits*

A spouse may receive credit for using separate property funds to pay community debts post-date of separation unless the payment was:

  • A gift
  • In lieu of support
  • There was an agreement to the contrary
  • Paying spouse was using the underlying asset (e.g. a vehicle)


A party may be charged relative to misappropriation of community funds.

Fiduciary Duty*

A party may be charged a penalty for breaching a fiduciary duty. This penalty may equal to 100% of the value of the non-disclosed asset.

Pereira* / Van Camp*

If a separate property business increases in value during the marriage, the community may be reimbursed a portion of the increase. This is a right to reimbursement and not a right to ownership. A party does not acquire an interest in the other party’s separate property business during the marriage unless there has been a transmutation of that interest.

Watts* Charge

A party may be charged for the use of real property, other tangible assets, liquid funds, a business or any other asset after the date of separation. In other words, a party may have to pay the community a fair rental value for living in the family residence after the date of separation.

House Bank Business Boat

Family Law Code Section 2640

A spouse may receive reimbursement for separate property contributions to the acquisition of community property. For example, a party is reimbursed for the equity that existed in a separate property home on the date they placed the other party’s name on title unless there was a written waiver of that right. A right to reimbursement may exist when one party uses their separate property to acquire property in the name of the other party.

Pereira* / Van Camp*

The community may be reimbursed relative to a portion of the increase in value of a separate property business during the marriage of a separate property business. This is a right to reimbursement and not a right to ownership.

*Based on California family law cases