Understanding the Implications of Marital Property Division
Living in New Mexico means you’re in one of the few states that follow community property laws. While the majority of states adhere to common law principles, New Mexico, along with only 8 other states, operates under a community property system. This distinction significantly affects how assets are divided during a divorce. To make informed decisions regarding marriage, divorce, or will creation, it’s crucial to grasp the basics of this legal framework.
Common Law vs. Community Property Explained
In most US states, common law dictates that property acquired by one spouse during the marriage solely belongs to that individual. However, in the case of jointly titled assets, ownership is shared equally. When a spouse passes away, their separate property is distributed according to their will or probate laws, if there is no will. Therefore, how couples establish ownership during their marriage, such as through Joint Tenancy or Tenancy in Common, becomes highly relevant.
On the other hand, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Wisconsin embrace community property regulations. In these states, all property accumulated during the marriage is considered community property, belonging equally to both spouses. This includes earnings, purchases made with those earnings, and debts incurred during the marriage. Community property commences at the start of the marriage and concludes when the divorce process begins. If a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse inherits their half of the community property. The deceased’s separate property can be distributed according to their will or via probate laws. Generally, the longer the marriage, the greater the amount of community property to divide. To put it simply, unless something is inherited, any earnings or purchases during the marriage must be shared equally.
The Impact of Community Property on Divorce in Albuquerque
In Albuquerque, New Mexico’s community property legislation means that any earnings or debts acquired before or after the marriage are considered separate property. However, everything earned or purchased during the marriage must be divided equally. In some cases, separate property that significantly increases in value during the marriage can be regarded as community property. Conversely, property given to or inherited by one spouse remains separate property. Occasionally, a spouse may utilize separate property to finance or maintain a home. In such instances, any mortgage payments made during the marriage become community property, regardless of one spouse’s separate property stake in the house. Calculating that stake becomes necessary. Additionally, the duration of the marriage also impacts the complexity of property division. Longer marriages usually involve more intricate property division issues. Evidently, determining ownership and interests can be quite challenging.
It’s important to remember that each case is unique. If you want to understand what you or your spouse are entitled to in the event of a divorce, reach out to Albuquerque’s top divorce lawyers for a consultation. Alternatively, you can find valuable information in our family law library. For assistance with your divorce or custody case, call our divorce lawyers at 505-317-4455 or chat with someone online now.