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Fiduciary Duties of Managing Community Property: What a Managing Spouse Must Know

Under California law, spouses owe each other certain duties both during the marriage, and after separation before the property is divided. These duties are fiduciary in nature, and held to the same standard as those between business partners. Family Code section 721(b) states in pertinent part that: "...This confidential relationship is a fiduciary relationship subject to the same rights and duties of nonmarital business partners...included but not limited to the following: 1. Providing each spouse access at all times to any books kept regarding a transaction for the purposes of inspection and copying; 2. Rendering upon request, true and full information of all things affecting any transaction which concerns the community property. Nothing in this section is intended to impose a duty for either spouse to keep detailed books and records of community property transactions, and 3. Accounting to the spouse, and holding as a trustee, any benefit or profit derived from any transaction by one spouse without the consent of the other spouse which concerns the community property."

Remember to think of divorce as a financial transaction

It doesn't matter if you have $10 sitting in your bank account or $10 million -- the emotional cost of giving up on your marriage is about the same. However, high-asset divorces can be a lot more cumbersome and difficult to get through simply because there's a lot more worth fighting over.

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