Saturday, June 13, 2015

Understanding Community Property Laws in Nevada

Divorce can confusing and complicated. When a couple has shared a life for years, splitting up the property they have acquired can be a complex process. This is made more complicated by the fact that not every state treats family law matters the same, or divides property in the same ways. Nevada is in the minority nationwide because it is a “community property state.”

What is a Community Property State?
 Because Nevada is a community property state, that affects personal property rights, divorce law, and even inheritance laws in the state. Basically, “community property” is property that spouses own together. In a community property state, married couples are considered to jointly own:

  • All of the income earned by both spouses. This means that even if one spouse earns substantially more than the other spouse, both spouses have a claim on the total household income.
  • Any property acquired with income earned during the marriage. This includes both real property (like land or buildings) and personal property (things that you own that is on your land or in your buildings, such as cars, dishes, jewelry, or even pets).
  • Any debts acquired during the marriage. This means that if one of you took out a mortgage or student loan before you got married, the other spouse generally is not responsible for that debt. However, if one spouse ran up credit card debt during the marriage, then both may be held responsible for that debt.
This jointly owned property might have to be sold in the event of a divorce if the parties cannot agree to a fair distribution of the assets.

What is Not Considered Community Property?
It can seem like everything either partner owns is community property, but that is not the case. There are three main types of property you may own if you are going through a divorce that are not considered community property. These include:

  1. Property obtained by one spouse after a legal separation is not community property. It is important to remember the “legal” separation part of this, so you do not inadvertently obtain property after your marriage is over and wind up having it divided with your spouse.
  2. Any property either of you owned before you entered into the marriage stays with the person who originally owned it, as do any pre-marriage debts.
  3. Property that one of you received as either a gift or an inheritance during the marriage from some outside third party can remain separate from community property, as long as it is actually kept separate. If one partner inherited money individually from an aunt, that could remain separate from the community property. However, if the inheritance was put in a joint bank account and included with community property funds, then it would also become community property.
If you have questions about Nevada's community property law or your rights in a divorce, you should speak with an experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney. Contact the family law team at De Castroverde Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your situation and legal options.