When people speak about community property or common law, it is largely based on what state you are in. Most states in the U.S. are considered common law states, which means that whatever property is acquired during the marriage by one spouse is owned solely by the spouse whose name it is in. In the following paragraphs, we’ll be going over what it means when you live in a community property state like New Mexico is and how that can affect you in the event of a death or divorce. 

Who Gets What After a Divorce or After a Spouse’s Death?


Who gets what largely depends on what state you live in. Most states, with the exception of 8 are considered common law states. Community Property states, which include New Mexico, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Wisconsin, all property acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both spouses. Community property includes the following:

  1. Any earnings

  2. Any property acquired with those earnings

  3. All debts accrued during the marriage

Community property begins at the start of the marriage and ends when the couple begins divorce proceedings. In the event of a passing, any property remaining is passed to the surviving spouse. Any separate property can be distributed according to the will or probate if no will exists at the time of passing. 


What Does Common Law/Community Property Mean?


Common-Law/Community Property refers to how a state determines how any marital property, which is property acquired during the marriage is to be divided after a divorce. Now, while most states are common law states which means that anything owned by one spouse at the time of divorce is solely theirs. Now, with that being said in the event that both names of the couple are on the deed or title for a piece of property, then that property is to be divided equally among both spouses. This makes the way that spouses determine ownership during marriage very important. 

How Does Community Law Affect My Divorce in Albuquerque, New Mexico?


Because New Mexico is a Community Property state, any debts, earnings, or property purchased with those earnings are to be split equally in the event of a divorce. Separate property that was enlarged or enhanced during the marriage can also be considered community property. However, any property inherited or given to one spouse will remain separate property, as opposed to becoming community property. Determining ownership in any state can be difficult, but even more so when you need to account for community property in your state. It is in your best interest to speak to an experienced family law attorney who can assist you in navigating your divorce when it comes to community versus separate property. Genus Law Group has extremely experienced attorneys who can help guide you to make the best decisions for you, your family, and any properties, debts, or earnings acquired during your marriage. If you do need any assistance, you can always contact us and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond