Your house is considered "separate property" since you owned it before
you were married.
"California law defines community property as any asset acquired or
income earned by a married person while living with his or her spouse.
Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before
the marriage, or during the marriage by gift, d evise or bequest. The
law requires that the community estate be divided equally if there is
no written agreement to the contrary. This means that from the total
fair market value of the community assets, the joint obligations of
the parties are subtracted, yielding the net community estate. Unless
agreed otherwise, each spouse must receive ½ of the net community
Even though you paid on the house while you were married to her and
acquired more equity on it, it seems that it still doesn't come into
play because you acquired ownership of it before you married.
Here is the official take of the California state government on the situation:
"Separate property. Separate property is property acquired before your
marriage, including rents or profits received from these items;
property received after the date of your separation with your separate
earnings; inheritances that were received either before or during
marriage; and gifts to you alone, not you and your spouse. Separate
property is not divided during dissolution.
Problems with identifying separate property occur when separate
property has been mixed with community property. You may be entitled
to receive your separate property back even if it has been mixed.
There are complex tracing requirements where property has been mixed,
and you may want to seek the advice of a lawyer.
Debts incurred before your marriage or after your separation are
considered your separate property debts.
You will be required to file proof that you listed all of your
community and separate property on a document called a Preliminary
Declaration of Disclosure and that you served this document on your
spouse. Determining the character of property can be complicated. You
may want a lawyer to help you make sure that your property is
correctly listed as community or separate."
So, even though you still paid the mortgage while you were married, it
was a separate debt and so is only yours. The house is separate
property. Since you didn't add her to the deed, this should be simple
If you need any additional help or clarifications answered, let me
know and I'll be glad to help.
community property california