Community Property States

August 9, 2023

I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. My articles are my opinions, and not legal advice. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

Community property states are those where both married spouses share responsibility for all debts and income incurred or earned by themselves individually, and also whatever is earned or any debts incurred by their spousal partner. Community property means that each spouse has a one-half, undivided, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, present or future interest in their assets and properties.

Sometimes the judgment debtor named on your judgment is judgment proof, meaning they will be difficult or impossible to recover from. In community property states, you may have two people to recover from, which doubles your chances to recover the money you are owed.

Community property states are currently: (occasionally Alaska), Arizona, California, Idaho, (some Indian reservations), Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Judgment enforcement choices sometimes depend on community property laws that vary in most community property states. A quick visit to the local law library or a few minutes of research on the web, should easily clarify the situation of a judgment in a community property state.

In a community property state, one can usually levy wages, property, bank accounts, or other assets belonging to the judgment debtor and their spouse. Levying a judgment debtor’s spouse usually requires approval by the court, and a properly endorsed court-filed affidavit, declaration, or a motion; that documents your reasons why some assets of the judgment debtor’s spouse should be available to pay towards the judgment debt.

Not every asset a couple has can be considered community property. What is usually considered to be community property is all the money each spouse earned during the length of their marriage, and any assets bought with their earnings including real estate, vehicles, and most any other asset, and usually also their debts. Unless separate assets can be traced to their origin, commingling separate and community property usually results in all commingled assets being considered to be community property.

What is usually not community property is anything either spouse earned or received before their marriage, or gifts or inheritances the non-debtor spouse received during the marriage that was not used by both parties.

The laws of your state will show the extent of a judgment debtor spouse’s liability for a judgment debt. Often in a community property state, you can pursue both spouse’s assets to recover your judgment. It might not matter whether they are still married, as long as they were married when the money judgment was issued by the court. In community property states, you probably can levy, garnish, or pursue most any other enforcement strategy against both spouse at the same time.

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