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Personal injury damages occurring before marriage can be classified by tracing. Tracing can dispel the procommunity presumption. However, if the injury is for lost earnings extending into marriage, some pro-rata part of the recovery is community.


Personal injury damages received or to be received from a cause of action arising during marriage are community property. (Civ. Code, § 4800, subd. (c); see Hand v. Superior Court (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 436, 440-442 [184 Cal.Rptr. 588].) Upon dissolution or separation, however, section 4800, subdivision (c), provides that these proceeds, labeled 'community property personal injury damages,' are to be assigned to the injured spouse unless the court, considering the facts of the case, determines the interests of justice required another disposition. In such case, the community property personal injury damages are assigned to the respective parties in such proportions as the court determines to be fair, except that at least one-half of such damages must be assigned to the spouse who suffered the injuries. (§ 4800, subd. (c).) 'Community property personal injury damages' are thus a species unique to the Family Law Act; they are held as community property during marriage, but upon dissolution such damages are subject to special ...

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