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Community property (United States) also called Community of Property (South Africa) is a
marital property regime Matrimonial regimes, or marital property systems, are systems of property ownership between spouses providing for the creation or absence of a marital estate (land), estate and if created, what properties are included in that estate, how and by who ...
that originated in
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
jurisdictions but is now also found in some
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
jurisdictions.. Community of property regimes can be found in countries around the world including
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's fo ...

Sweden
,
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...

South Africa
and parts of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. Under community property regimes, depending on the jurisdiction, property owned by one spouse before
marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other in a marriage in Stockholm Marr ...

marriage
, and gifts and inheritances received during marriage, are treated as that spouse's separate property in the event of divorce. All other property acquired during the marriage is treated as community property and is subject to division between the spouses in the event of divorce. In some cases, separate property can be "transmuted" into community property, or be included in the marital estate for reasons of equity.


Variations

* Community of Acquests and Gains: Each spouse owns an undivided half-interest in all property acquired during the marriage, except for property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, which is separate property; or which traces to separate property acquired before the marriage, which remains separate property; or which is acquired during a period when the couple are permanently living separately and apart (e.g., legal separation, actual, or ''de facto''), which is also separate property. This genre of community property is also called "ganancial community property." (Fr '' communauté réduite aux acquêts'', Sp '' sociedad de gananciales'', Du ''gemeenschap van aanwinst van goederen'', ''gemeenschap van vruchten en inkomsten'', Ger '' Errungenschaftsgemeinschaft'', It '' comunione degli acquisti'') * Community of Profit and Loss: similar to above but liabilities ("losses") are separate property. (Du ''gemeenschap van winst en verlies'', Afrik ''gemeenskap van wins en verlies'') * Community of Personal and Marital Property: Community property consists of all property, personalty and realty, acquired during the marriage; and all personalty acquired before the marriage. Realty acquired before marriage is separate property. (Fr '' communauté de meubles et acquêts'', Du ''gemeenschap van inboedel'', Ger '' Fahrnisgemeinschaft''). * Limited Community Property: Similar to community of acquests and gains but certain marital property is separate property. (Fr ''communauté de biens limitée'', Du ''beperkte gemeenschap van goederen'', Swiss Ger ''Ausschlussgemeinschaft'') * Universal or Absolute Community Property: All pre-marital and marital property is community property. However, if there are children from a prior marriage, the property associated with that marital community may be segregated from the community property of a subsequent marriage, to ensure the children of the prior spouse have an inheritance. (Fr '' communauté universelle'', Sp ''comunidad absoluta de bienes'', Du ''algehele gemeenschap van goederen'', Ger '' allgemeine Gütergemeinschaft'', It ''comunione universale dei beni'')


Jurisdictions


Custom of Paris in New France


South Africa

In South Africa, if a couple does not sign an antenuptial contract, before a
notary public A notary public ( notary or public notary; notaries public) of the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by vi ...
, which is subsequently registered at a deeds office, prior to marriage, they are married in community of property, which means that all of their assets and liabilities (even those acquired before the marriage) are merged into a joint estate during their marriage, in which each spouse has an undivided half-share. Each spouse has equal power to deal independently with the estate, except that certain major transactions require the consent of both spouses. One of the consequences of community of property in South Africa is that if one spouse is declared insolvent (bankrupt) during the marriage, the other also becomes insolvent, a potentially devastating consequenc


United States

The United States has nine community property states:
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

Arizona
,
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
,
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
,
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, and
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Wisconsin
. Three other states have adopted optional community property systems.
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
allows spouses to create community property by entering into a community property agreement or by creating a community property trust. In 2010,
Tennessee Tennessee (, ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The S ...

Tennessee
adopted a law similar to Alaska's and allows residents and non-residents to opt into community property through a community property trust. Most recently,
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
adopted an optional community property system in 2020, allowing residents and non-residents to establish community property trusts. The commonwealth of
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
allows property to be owned as community property also as do several Native American jurisdictions. Division of community property may take place by item by splitting all items or by values. In some jurisdictions, such as
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
, a 50/50 division of community property is strictly mandated by statute so the focus then shifts to whether particular items are to be classified as community or separate property. In other jurisdictions, such as
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
, a divorce court may decree an "
equitable distribution Division of property, also known as equitable distribution, is a judicial division of property rights and obligations between spouses during divorce Divorce also known as dissolution of marriage, is the process of terminating a marriage ...
" of community property, which may result in an ''unequal division'' of such. In non-community property states property may be divided by equitable distribution. Generally speaking, the property that each partner brings into the marriage or receives by gift, bequest or devise during marriage is called separate property (not community property). See
division of property Division of property, also known as equitable distribution, is a judicial division of property rights and obligations between spouses during divorce Divorce also known as dissolution of marriage, is the process of terminating a marriage ...
. Division of community debts may not be the same as division of community property. For example, in California, community property is required to be divided "equally" while community debt is required to be divided "equitably".See ''In re Marriage of Eastis''
47 Cal. App. 3d 459
(1975).


Notes


References

* Gail Boreman-Bird. ''Cases and Materials on California Community Property'', 10th edn. Revised by Jo Carrillo. St. Paul, Minn.: West Academic Publishing, 2011. * Jo Carrillo. ''Understanding California Community Property Law''. New Providence, NJ: LexisNexis, 2015. * Jan P Charmatz & Harriet Spiller Daggett, eds. ''Comparative Studies in Community Property Law''. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1955 (repr: Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977). * Charlotte K. Goldberg. ''Examples & Explanations: California Community Property'', 5th edn. NY: Wolters Kluwer, 2016. * Robert L. Mennell & Jo Carrillo. ''Community Property in a Nutshell'', 3rd edn. St. Paul, Minn.: West Academic Publishing, 2014. * William A. Reppy, Jr. ''Community Property'', 18th edn. Chicago: Thomson/BarBri Group, 2003. * William A. Reppy, Jr., Cynthia A. Samuel, & Sally Brown Richardson. ''Community Property in the United States'', 8th edn. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2015. {{Property navbox Property law Marriage law