How Community Property Differs From Common Law In A Divorce

Most states handle the division of property under community property principles. The farther west and south you travel, the more likely that your property will be handled by community property standards rather than common law standards. While common law might look at who was involved in the purchase of a particular item, community property laws treat all property owned by the company as community property with some exceptions.

Advantages of Community Property

Regardless of who is the breadwinner, both partners will have access to the community-owned property. This is helpful when you were a stay-at-home mom and your husband brought home the only income. Instead, the only thing that matters is that you were married and that you obtained your property over the course of your marriage.

Community property not only affects possessions but also affects any debts owed. For example, if you take out a mortgage with your partner, you will be responsible for the debt even if the mortgage is not in your name.

Types of Community Property

Any income that either spouse earns is considered a part of community property. Any property purchased with the income earned from the household is considered community property. In most households, all property ends up falling under the community property banner.

Personal Property

You are still allowed to have your own personal property under community property laws. However, you must prove that the property belongs to you in particular. If personal property is somehow combined with community property, the personal property can be subjected to control by either spouse. 

Personal property usually involves property that was acquired prior to the marriage. Once you have legally separated, all property that is acquired afterward is considered personal property. Also, property that is a gift or inheritance by a third party is considered personal property.

Splitting Up Personal Property

You will need help from a divorce lawyer when you are dividing up your personal property. You will need to consider whether you would rather have property that would be valuable to you immediately or if you would rather have property that would be more valuable when you invest money into it. 

For example, if both you and your partner own a business together, you may find that it's not valuable for you to own the business because you have not been involved in the day-to-day activities of running the business. However, a divorce attorney can help you consider all angles.