What Is Community Property?

A community property is everything that a married couple owns, from property to debts that are incurred during the course of the marriage.

In the US, only 8 states recognize the community property law, but 25% of the population lives in such a property. These include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington.

Any income received by either the husband or wife is considered a community property. The same is true with any personal or real property and debts incurred while the couples are married. Regardless of which spouse runs up a credit card bill or took out a loan, both the husband and wife owe equal amounts to the bank or the lender. Failure to pay would mean the spouse who has nothing to do with the debt could have their wages garnished.

What is not considered community property are properties owned before marriage, those obtained by a spouse after separating legally, and those received as an inheritance or a gift from a third party, provided that they remain separate with no joint banking accounts attached, for example.

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In the event that a separate property uses money earned during the marriage to pay for asset maintenance and care, the property becomes a community property.

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