When a couple divorces, their legal partnership terminates. If the couple holds property that was shared during their marriage, it must be divided upon divorce.
Property that is owned before marriage remains the property of the original owner; however, how property that is acquired during marriage is divided upon divorce depends on whether the couple resides in a community property state or non-community property state.
Community property includes all earnings by either spouse during marriage as well as everything that is bought using earnings or wages by either spouse during marriage.
Currently, there are only nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Alaska is an opt-in community property state which gives both parties the option to make their property community property.
Read More About:
The laws recognize that any separate property of one spouse cannot be considered community property. Separate property includes any property owned in one spouse’s name before marriage.
Separate property also includes gifts and inheritances given just to that spouse, personal injury awards received by that spouse, and proceeds of a pension that has vested before marriage.
During divorce, a couple generally divides community property equally between the spouses. Notwithstanding, each spouse is permitted to keep his or her separate property.
There are times that a couple purchases property with a combination of community and separate property. For instance, a person who uses primarily his inheritance before marriage plus his and his wife’s earnings during marriage to purchase a home uses both community and separate property.
Generally speaking, this property typically becomes community property, and is therefore divided equally between both spouses.
If you do not live in a community property state, your state recognizes equitable distribution of property upon divorce. In these states, assets and earnings accumulated during marriage are divided equitably (fairly).
It is less important that the property be divided equally so long as the judge determines that the split is fair. In that regard, a judge may order one party to use separate party to make the property distribution fair to both parties.
If you have a question about how your property will be divided upon divorce, contact a skilled divorce attorney. An attorney can help you determine how property will be split and can fight for your rights in case your divorce is contentious.
Last Modified: 05-23-2018 11:49 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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.