An Overview of Community Property in Nevada
Community property is defined as property owned jointly by a married couple. Nevada law regarding community property is outlined in NRS 123.220-259. These laws allow for a divorce decree to accurately represent how all property should be divided among a couple filing for divorce. Typically property is divided equally among parties, however this is not always the case. Community property may include but is not limited to items such as credit card debt, loans, land and vehicles.
In the absence of written agreements, all property obtained during a marriage is considered community property, with the exception of separate property. Separate property falls in to four categories under NRS 123.130. These are: property owned before marriage, property given as a gift, property acquired through probate and property awarded in a personal injury action. When separate property is comingled with community property the court must find a compelling reason to make an unequal distribution of property.
Occasionally there will be an unequal distribution of property as seen in the case of Wolff v. Wolff. Here Ms. Wolff was originally entitled to a portion of Mr. Wolff’s retirement funds. Because Ms. Wolff was receiving social security benefits the court ordered Mr. Wolff to pay Ms. Wolff her share of spousal support less his retirement funds. In a dissent by the Judge it is stated that the courts “…divide all separate and community property equitably after considering the totality of facts, and this, of course, includes Roberta’s substantial accrued social security benefits that she will reap in the future.”
Further still there are exemptions when a spouse has “wasted” or “secreted” community assets as in Putterman v. Putterman. Here the court finds compelling reason for unequal distribution of community property because Mr. Putterman had “secreted” several thousand dollars which had to be repaid at Ms. Putterman’s expense. The case states that the funds provided by Ms. Putterman “presents the kind of financial misconduct that can form the basis for a finding of compelling reasons for unequal division.”
Under NRS 123.220 community property is defined as “all property… acquired after marriage by either spouse or both spouses, is community property…” Here we can see that there is ample room for interpretation of the law. Because of this it becomes necessary for those experienced in family law matters to oversee not only divorce decrees but also premarital agreements in order to ensure equitable division of community property for all parties.