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Community Property States

Navigation:  Home > Family Law> Community Property States


For purposes of distributing assets after a divorce, many states are community property states, meaning both the husband and wife equally own all money earned by either one of them from the beginning of the marriage until the date of separation. In addition, all property acquired during the marriage with community money is deemed to be owned equally by both the wife and husband, regardless of who purchased it. The separation date is important in this analysis, as it is the last day when property is considered "community." Debts work the same way as assets - any debt accrued during the marriage belongs to both husband and wife equally. Each spouse’s 50 percent ownership interest in community property includes equal rights of management and control. There are ten community property states, including California, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In community property states, this is the property that is considered separate, i.e. belonging to only one spouse. This usually includes anything owned prior to marriage, inheritances, and anything a spouse earned after the date of separation. Educational loans can also count as "separate" debts, owned by only one spouse.


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