When two people get married, they don’t believe that anything can break up their relationship. However, it is a fact of life that sometimes it doesn’t work and ends in a divorce.
Aside from the emotional pain and custody of the children, one of most difficult questions to be answered is who gets the property and other assets. In the United States, this question is answered depending on the state where they live, if it comes under common law property state or community property state.
Divorce In Common Law Property States
Most of the states in the United States come under this category. What this term common law means in simple terms is that any property acquired by a single spouse, even during marriage, will remain with that person after divorce. However, if a property deed has both the spouses’ names, then each one gets one half of it.
Besides this, if one spouse gifts something and has both their names put in the agreement, then it belongs to both and is divided equally. To clarify, let’s consider an example. If a husband buys a car with his money and puts it in his name, then it solely belongs to him. However, if he puts his wife’s name along with his on the purchase deed, then they both have equal ownership of the car.
Some couples enter into a pre-marriage agreement wherein they decide the division of property in case of divorce. However, when it has not been decided beforehand the court makes this decision.
Divorce In Community Property States
Some of the states in the US namely California, Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, and New Mexico come under the Community Property States. The term community property means that every piece of asset acquired during the time a couple is married automatically gets equally distributed among both. Both of them share fifty percent each.
Once two people get married, the community property they own after that point belongs to both and is divided when the couple separates. However, in these states too, assets acquired before marriage belongs to that particular spouse unless transferred or gifted to the other spouse with authentic paper work.
In these situations the spouses are not permitted to make changes to any community property without consent from both. In the event of divorce, all the community property is divided equally; assets like houses, which cannot be physically divided, are given to one and the other gets some other asset worth the value of half the house.
Exceptions to the rule
There are some exceptions to this rule of equal division of property: If one spouse embezzles the community property during or before divorce; or if one of them has taken out an educational loan. There is something called a personal injury award which goes to the injured spouse. If the couple has debts that exceed the value of the property they own, in event of divorce, the court makes the decision depending on the relative ability of the each spouse to pay back the debt.