Community Property Law and Legal Definition

Community property refers to the system in some states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsisn) for dividing a married couple's property in a divorce or upon the death of one spouse. In this system, everything a husband and wife acquire once they are married is owned equally (fifty-fifty) by both of them, regardless of who provided the money to purchase the asset or whose name the asset is held in, with the exception of inheritances, specific gifts to one of the spouses, and property and profits clearly traceable to property owned before marriage, all of which is separate property.

Community property recognizes the equal contribution of both parties to the marriage even though one or the other may earn more income through employment. By agreement or action the married couple can turn (transmute) separate property into community property, including by commingling community and separate funds in one account.