Family Law

Community Property and Equitable Distribution States

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Is your motto, "What's mine is mine," or is it, "One for all and all for one?" It's an important question for anyone who's thinking about getting married, and especially for anyone thinking about getting a divorce.

In practically every marriage,the couple has property or asserts, from land to bank accounts. Sometimes one spouse has it before the marriage, other times one or both spouses get property or assets during the marriage. When it comes to divorce, the question is: Who gets what?

It all depends on where you live. Do you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state. Although these two kinds of states share many of the same terms, principles and laws, there are some differences between them. Knowing which laws apply to your situation can be invaluable.

Community Property States

- Alaska*
- Arizona
- California
- Idaho
- Louisiana
- Nevada
- New Mexico
- Puerto Rico
- Texas
- Washington

Equitable Distribution States

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arkansas
- Colorado
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- District of Columbia
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii
- Illinois
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Maine
- Maryland
- Massachusetts
- Michigan
- Minnesota
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Ohio
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Utah
- Vermont
- Virginia
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming

*Alaska is an equitable distribution state, but couples may opt-in or agree to use community property rules.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • How is property distributed if we're married in a community property state but now live in an equitable distribution state?
  • What happens if most of the marital property is in a community property state where my soon-to-be ex lives, but I live an equitable distribution state?
  • Should my spouse and I opt into Alaska's community property scheme? Why or why not?
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