Featured News 2016 Community Property States

Community Property States

In regards to property division in a divorce, each state either follows the equitable division or community property model. In the United States, the equitable division model is more common, however, nine states have adopted the community property system, and they include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In addition to the above, Puerto Rico follows the community property system, and in Alaska, residents have the option. If you live in Alaska, you can learn more about the law by looking up §§ 34.77.020 -34.77.995.

What does "community property" mean exactly? It's much like a partnership whereby each spouse contributes labor and sometimes capital for the benefit of the marriage, hence, each spouse is entitled to a 50 percent interest in the marital property, regardless of which spouse earned the money or whose name is on the title or account.

In the community property states, spouses are entitled to half of the marital assets, while each spouse is entitled to their separate property. So, the question is, what is marital property and what is separate?

Marital property includes all income and assets acquired during the marriage until the date of separation. In contrast, separate property is all income and property acquired before the marriage and after the separation.

Separate property also includes assets and property received by gift or inheritance during the marriage.

Marital assets are not all that spouses share; spouses are also equally responsible for each other's debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse incurred the debt.

Can spouses deviate from a 50/50 split?

Spouses do not have to split their assets and debts 50/50. During negotiations, they have every right to reach a settlement that deviates from the 50/50 model. However, if the spouses cannot reach an agreement on property division, a family law judge will have to decide for them.

Learn more about property division during divorce in your state by reaching out to an experienced divorce attorney.

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