Community property

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Community property is all the property that has been acquired during a marriage, other than gifts or an inheritance. Even if one spouse earns all the money to acquire the property, all the property acquired is considered to be community property. There are nine states that recognize community property: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In addition, Puerto Rico is a community property jurisdiction. These community property states have special laws that operate on the theory that both spouses contribute equally to the marriage, so all property acquired during the marriage is the result of the combined efforts of both spouses. In community property states, spouses equally own all community property. Community property includes all earnings during marriage and everything acquired with those earnings. All debts incurred during the marriage are community property debts. If, however, one spouse receives an inheritance, a personal injury award, or a pension that began before the marriage, those funds are considered separate property, and aren't divided upon divorce. Similarly, if one spouse has a debt that is somehow associated with separate property, that debt won't be divided upon divorce.

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