Common Law vs. Community Property States

By Lauren Williams

DivorceThe way marital property is divided varies from state to state.  States fall into two general categories as to how they divide marital property:  community property states and common law states.  Generally, in community property states the courts primary objective is to simply divide the property between the spouses (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington).  In common law states property is divided based on principals of equity or overall fairness.  This can lead to a very different outcome than in a community property state where the court may not even be permitted to consider such factors.  The trend, however, in recent years has been a blurring of this distinction as community property states are more and more inclined to consider equitable arguments.  It is highly recommended that legal counsel be obtained to advise how the relevant state’s law will apply to your personal circumstances.

Lauren Williams

About The Author

Lauren Williams is a legal writer for and the USA Law Network.