In re Marriage of Wozniak

Facts: A married couple holds title to property which is community property. The husband prepares and executes a deed of conveyance intending to transfer his interest in the community property to his wife. On handing the deed to the wife as an offer to terminate the husband’s interest, the wife rejects the offer and the deed. The husband does not again intend to transmute the community property to the wife’s sole ownership. Later, the wife records the deed.

Claim: The wife claims the property is her separate property and it is not community property since a transmutation occurred when the husband executed an interspousal transfer deed to transfer the husband’s interest to the wife.

Counter claim: The husband claims he did prepare and executed an interspousal transfer deed, but that it did not become effective to transmute the property to the wife’s separate property since the wife rejected the offer at the time of delivery and he never again intended to transmute the community property into the wife’s separate property.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the property is community property of the couple and the interspousal transfer deed is unenforceable for failure of a valid transmutation since the wife rejected the deed of conveyance at the time it was presented and at no time later did the husband intend to pass title of his community property interest to the wife. [In re Marriage of Wozinak (2020) 59 CA5th 120]

Read the case text here.