Find the right lawyer now

Community Property State Divorce Lawyers

Find a Local Family Lawyer near You

What Is Community Property?

Community property is property that is owned by both spouses in a marriage. It is distinct from separate property, which is property owned by one spouse individually. There are nine states that follow community property laws: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Generally, anything that a married couple accumulates during the marriage is considered community property, that is, both spouses own an undivided share of the whole. Community property courts start with a strong presumption that anything acquired during marriage is a community item, the spouse claiming a particular item is not community property has the burden of proving otherwise.

How Does a Community Property State Differ from Other States?

Nine states in the United States are community property states. These states share many similar principles when it comes to dividing assets and obligations accrued during a marriage. Generally, anything that a married couple accumulates during the marriage is considered community property, that is, both spouses own an undivided share of the whole. Community property courts start with a strong presumption that anything acquired during marriage is a community item, the spouse claiming a particular item is not community property has the burden of proving otherwise.

Are There Exceptions to the Community Property Rule?

In community property states there are exceptions to the general rule. The following are the most common types of assets that are exceptions to the community property rule: 

  • Assets acquired before marriage
  • Assets acquired as a personal gift
  • Assets acquired through inheritance

What If My Spouse and I Acquired Property while Living in Another State?

Community property states will typically deal with this property as quasi-community property. Quasi-community property is property acquired by either spouse in a non-community property state that would have been community property had the couple been domiciled in a community property state at the time of acquisition.

Should I Contact an Attorney for My Divorce in a Community Property State?

Divorce proceedings can be very complicated. An experienced family law attorney can help you determine how your state's laws will affect your divorce. A family law lawyer can also represent you in court if a dispute arises.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-11-2015 09:07 AM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.