Community Property States: Are You Divorcing in One?

88367773With any divorce, there comes a division of assets, properties, and debts. This is unfortunately just one of the many detailed and intricate things that go into divorce itself. There are certain laws and regulations that specify just how property is to be divided and what property is actually defined as. Many of the states in the U.S have adopted the same principles for doing this. However, there are a number of states that still use the older system and laws in terms of property and assets upon the dissolution of marriage. These two types of marital property regimes are Community Property and Equitable Distribution.

Community Property
This is the lesser used law out of the two, and is generally used more in the Western part of the U.S. Community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In a Community Property state, most property acquired during the marriage is owned jointly by both spouses; however, it must be divided upon divorce, annulment, or death.

Under the Community Property guidelines, joint ownership is automatically presumed by law in the absence of any legal evidence that states otherwise. The Community Property system is usually justified by the idea that this joint ownership recognizes the equal contributions of both spouses to the creation and operation of the family  and the marriage.

Division of Community Property is done either by splitting all items or splitting the value. In some jurisdictions, such as California, Community Property is divided right down the middle. This means that the focus then shifts to whether particular items are to be classified as community or separate property; this decision is up to the courts to decide upon.

Equitable Distribution
In the states not aforementioned, this is how all divorce proceedings are handled when it comes to property. Equitable Distribution of community property, usually results in an unequal allotment of property to each party involved. This means the property that each partner brings into the marriage or receives via gift during the marriage is called separate property. Division of community debts may not be the same as division of community property.

In cases concerning this law, the court will usually consider such factors as substantial contribution to the accumulation of the property, the market, and emotional value of the assets, tax, and other economic consequences of the distribution. Fairness is the prevailing guideline the court will use. Alimony payments, child support obligations and all other property will be considered as well.

It’s important to know which law your state has taken into affect. Knowing the laws and what they entail for your specific state will help you the world over when it comes to filing for divorce. You can never know too much, and in this case, you should definitely want to know all you can so that your divorce proceedings go off without a hitch and that everything is done to the letter. Get informed, and be very much in the loop. Divorce can take its toll on you, so why give yourself any added pressures or stresses by not fully knowing just what’s happening every step of the way?

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