By: Steven M. Hinkes, The University of Memphis School of Law Class of 2015
November 21, 2013
The community property system is based on the notion that property acquired during marriage (other than by gift or inheritance) is the fruit of joint efforts of the husband and wife.Each spouse has a half share. Property acquired prior to marriage or by gift or inheritance is the separate, respective property of each spouse.Additionally, each spouse can only bequeath or devise his or her community property share. Furthermore, if a spouse passes away intestate before the other spouse, all of his or her separate property and community property share will be distributed in accordance with the applicable state’s intestacy statute. However, allowing the spouse who labored to purchase or acquire property to be the sole owner and manager of said property seems only fair and equitable. This article explains in further detail the features of the American community property system, discusses the economic (dis)incentives to marry which said features implicate, and calls into question whether the current system encourages lovers to form a marriage partnership.
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