Definition: When a marital estate (whether it's a community property or a separate property) contributes benefits to another marital estate and the contributing estate wants to be reimbursed for those contributions.
What can be reimbursed?
Here are some examples:
(1) When one spouse uses his/her separate property asset to pay the unsecured debts, such as credit card debts, of another spouse.
(2) When one spouse's marital estate uses his/her separate property to reduce the principal amount of another spouse's secured liabilities. Example: When the community estate is paying for the mortgage of the other spouse's separate property house.
(3) When one spouse's marital estate uses his/her separate property to enhance the value of the parties' community property. Example: When the spouse uses separate property cash to pay for the construction of a pool placed in the community property home.
What is the legal effect?
If a spouse establishes and proves a claim for reimbursement, the court may award an amount to the contributing spouse that is equal to the amount of contribution.