Shawn Weber, Attorney at Law
In California, the question that should be asked is not when the divorce is legally finalized, but when you were separated. California law defines your date of separation as that day on which it was clear to both parties that the marriage was irretrievable. That could be the date a spouse moved to a separate residence or the date a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed at court. If the house was acquired after the date of separation, it will be considered separate property. (Beware: if you use community property funds to purchase the house or to make a down payment, you run the risk of giving your ex-spouse an interest in the property or – at the very least – a right to reimbursement.)
BE CAREFUL! Adding a spouses name to the title for a piece of separate real property (i.e., a deed) will turn the property into a community asset. However, a right to reimbursement of the separate property investment will still stand.