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Understanding Community Property: Rights, Responsibilities, and Dissolution in Marriage

Through community property, the spouses pool the profits and benefits obtained by either of them during the marriage.

It is one of the types of matrimonial property regimes regulated by the Civil Code.

Through the community property, the profits or benefits obtained indiscriminately by any of them are made common to the spouses, which will be attributed to them in half when the company is dissolved.

In the community property, the spouses can have community property and private property. Let’s see when an asset is marital and when it is private.

Difference between community property and private property

In community property, two types of property are distinguished: community property and private property.

Community property

Property obtained by the spouses during the duration of the marriage is community property.

Specifically, the following are marital assets:

  1. The remuneration obtained for the work of either spouse.
  2. The fruits, income, or interest produced by a community asset or by a private asset. For example: if a spouse inherits an olive farm, the farm is private but the harvest is joint.
  3. Those acquired for consideration at the expense of the commonwealth, whether acquired for both spouses or for only one. That is, goods purchased with community money.
  4. Those acquired by right of withdrawal of a marital nature. Example: a couple owns a rural property. The owner of the neighboring property wants to sell it. The couple has the right to buy the adjacent rural property before a stranger (right of withdrawal). If the couple buys said adjacent property, it will be community property.
  5. Companies and establishments founded during the life of the company by any of the spouses at the expense of common property. If private capital and common capital are contributed for its formation, it will correspond pro-indiviso to the community property and the spouses in proportion to their contributions.
  6. Winnings are obtained by either spouse in gambling, for example, the lottery.
  7. Assets donated or left in a will to the spouses jointly.
  8. Buildings, plantations, and any other improvements made to marital property.
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Private property

They are those that belong exclusively to each of the spouses.

The following are private assets of each of the spouses:

  1. The assets belonging to each spouse before marriage or beginning the partnership.
  2. Assets are acquired free of charge after marriage (for example, an inheritance, or donation…).
  3. Those acquired at the expense of or in replacement of private assets (for example, housing purchased with inherited money)
  4. Those acquired by right of withdrawal belong to only one of the spouses.
  5. Assets inherent to the person and non-transmissible inter vivos.
  6. Compensation for damages inflicted on the person of one of the spouses or their private property.
  7. Clothing and objects for personal use that are not of extraordinary value.
  8. The instruments were necessary for the exercise of the profession or trade unless it was a common establishment or operation.

The assets mentioned in sections 4 and 8 will be private even if community money is used for their acquisition. In this case, the owner’s spouse owes the community money used for the community property.

Obligations of the community property

The community property must pay the expenses that arise from any of the following causes:

  • The support of the family, in a broad sense. That is, the feeding and education of common children and the children of only one of the spouses when they live together in the family home.
  • The acquisition, possession, and enjoyment of common property.
  • The ordinary administration of the private assets of either spouse.
  • The regular exploitation of the businesses or the performance of the profession, art, or craft of each spouse.
  • Donations made by both spouses by mutual agreement provided that they have not agreed that they are satisfied with private money.
  • The non-contractual obligations of a spouse are carried out for the benefit of the marital partnership or in the administration of assets.
  • The obligations are contracted by the two spouses jointly or by one of them with the express consent of the other.
  • In case of de facto separation, the expenses of the children who are in charge of the community property.
  • The debts of a spouse are also debts of the community property.
  • Debts for the acquisition of community property in installments by one of the spouses, always being liable for the acquired property.
  • Gambling debts.
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If money or property belonging to a spouse is used to pay any of the expenses or debts mentioned, the spouse will have the right to be reimbursed.

Administration and disposition of the community property

The administration and disposal of marital assets correspond to both spouses jointly, unless they have agreed otherwise.

In the absence of an agreement in capitulations, the management and disposition of marital property corresponds jointly to the spouses, without prejudice to what is determined in the following articles.

According to what has been said, as a general rule, the administration and management of marital assets will be carried out by both spouses jointly.

Now, there are two exceptions :

  1. That the spouses agree in marriage contracts to a system different from that provided for in the law, in no case may the agreement be contrary to the equality of rights that correspond to each spouse.
  2. The special provisions contemplated by the law, in order to avoid hindering the economic and legal life of the family. We will deal with these special provisions in another article.

The main problems in the administration of marital assets appear with divorce. It is common that when a couple wants to divorce, problems arise regarding the administration of the community property. We will discuss them in another article.

Causes of dissolution of the community property

The community property is dissolved for one of these 4 reasons:

  1. When the marriage is dissolved (more information in the post on property settlement in divorce ).
  2. When the marriage is declared null.
  3. When the legal separation of the spouses is agreed.
  4. When the spouses agree to a different economic regime in marriage agreements.
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FAQs;

1-What is the right to be equal in a marriage?

The right to be equal in marriage typically refers to equality of decision-making, property ownership, financial rights, and rights to children regardless of gender or money contributed.

2-What kind of property separated during marriage by a written contract is considered under community property law in Texas?

Under Texas’s community property laws, any property specifically excluded by a premarital or marital property agreement is executed and signed by both spouses.

3-What are the responsibilities of a marriage contract?

Typical responsibilities outlined in a marriage contract include economic support, joint decision-making regarding household and finances, emotional support, intimacy, fidelity to the relationship, and being present with one’s spouse.

4-What are the responsibilities of a married couple?

Responsibilities common to married couples include financial support through pooling assets and income, household duties divided fairly between partners, communication and quality time together, intimacy and affection, and mutual care and respect.

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