They can own property independent of any interest in the other spouse. A community property estate, having been created, is terminated when spouses change their domicile from a community property state to a common law state. In any divorce case, property division is one of the most important matters of discussion, which is why anyone going through a divorce must understand how their state handles property division. Separate property refers to the property that one brings to the marriage remains the separate property of that individual and does not get divided should the marriage fail. Most states in the country are actually common law states. Like community property states, in equitable division states, separate property isn’t part of the marital estate and isn’t subject to division. Oregon Is An Equitable Distribution State. This can actually greatly impact how assets are divided in your divorce. In a common law state, who owns marital property depends on who acquired or purchased it. The non-community property states or separate property states characterize property earned by a wife or husband as her or his individual separate property. In community property states, because the property can't be “separately” owned, the property is exposed to the liabilities and creditors of both spouses. In these states, property acquired … It treats debt the same way — what you earn, save and spend in the marriage is irrevocably tied to the other person, in most cases. Divorce or Legal Separation. In common law property states, each spouse is a separate entity. To understand how your state's laws can affect your divorce settlement, it is important to know the difference between equitable distribution and community property. Well, the answer largely depends on what state you live in. “ In this case, “common law” is simply a term used to determine the ownership of property acquired during the marriage. New Mexico on the other hand, along with only 8 other states, is a community property state. Whatever each spouse acquired is solely their own. Washington is a Community Property State, but what does that mean? Inheritance laws differ in common law and community property states, and those laws affect how you can properly distribute your property. Most states follow equitable distribution laws. In all other states, common-law property rules apply. Common law and community property systems are different types of marital law, which determines who owns marital assets. In a community property state, the law typically considers any assets acquired during a marriage to be the property of both spouses. Making wills that are valid and the least contested depends very much on the laws of the state in which you live. A spouse who comes into the marriage with a vehicle or real estate can usually keep that vehicle or property after a … The other states, the clear majority of states, are called “common law property” states. Common law states vs community property states. This article explains the difference between a “Community Property” state and the other forms of ownership rights each spouse has in the ownership of their property and looks at the differences between community property and separate property in common law states.