No-Fault Divorce Forms - Adult Children

What is Community Property - Knowing Your Rights

If you're married, it's important to know your rights regarding community property and marital property, even if you don't live in a community property state. Community property consists of assets and debts that are considered to have been acquired through joint efforts under the family law of community property jurisdictions. Community of property may consist of items such as the marital home and other real property, joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card debt, vehicles, tax debt, student loans, furniture, home equity, mortgages, and more. Community property concepts will also impact property division decisions made by judges in tax court, bankruptcy court, and probate court.

Community Property Exceptions

Even in community property states, certain types of property are considered separate property. This includes the following items:

  1. 1. Debts and assets acquired before marriage.

  2. 2. Gifts.

  3. 3. Inheritances.

  4. 4. Legal settlements for pain and suffering due to accidents and injuries on the job may be deemed separate property. However, the amount of the settlement for damage to community property, such as a jointly owed vehicle involved in an auto accident, and an amount for lost wages, will be considered community property.

  5. 5. Commingled or combining of assets. For example, if an inheritance given to one spouse is used to pay off the joint debt on a credit card, such commingling of separate property can give the other spouse community property rights and convert the inheritance to community of property.

Community Property States

  • Washington
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Alaska allows married couples can create a community property agreement to classify some or all of their property to be treated as community property.
  • Puerto Rico is a community property territory.

Even among community property states, laws vary by state. For example, California will conduct division of property equally, assigning half to each spouse, whereas equitable distribution of community property is possible in Texas. Some state have recognized the concept of quasi community property, when separate property acquired while domiciled in a non-community property state may not necessarily become marital property when the couple later moves to a community property state. In Louisiana, statutes require a pamphlet on covenant marriage and community property to be provided when applying for a marriage license. It explains that a couple who married outside the state and then move to Louisiana have one year from the moving date to enter into an agreement not to have their property considered as community property under Louisiana law. A new concept called community property with right of survivorship has been recognized in some states, which is similar to joint tenants with right of survivorship. Therefore, it is important to consult local law.

US Legal Forms has professionally drafted property agreements for division of property that are state specific. We also offer related forms for property division in legal separation and divorce, all at an affordable cost and expertly designed to suit your needs, whether you live in a state that applies community property law or equitable distribution principles.

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