Community Property vs. Separate Property
Community property comprises all property acquired during the marriage, even if only one spouse’s name is on a title or deed. Community property includes income earned by either spouse and investment and rental income. It also includes items purchased during the marriage, such as a home, car, furniture, and household items. Moreover, it includes the debt on those items, such as the mortgage, auto loan, and credit card debt.
Separate property is any property each spouse acquired prior to the marriage, such as a car or business. This would also include debts acquired, such as a student loan or credit card debt. Idaho considers certain property and debt acquired during the marriage by one spouse as separate property. This would include an inheritance or other gifts. Addiction-related debt would also be considered separate property to not penalize the other spouse. If one spouse spent marital income to support an illegal drug addiction, for example, that debt would be only theirs and not their spouse’s debt.
Although the difference between community and separate property appears to be black and white, it can have shades of gray. As an example, Spouse A bought a house before the marriage and only Spouse A’s name is on the deed. However, after the marriage, the spouses commingled their incomes which continued to pay the mortgage, insurance, and other related expenses. In this case, the equity in the house up to the date of marriage may be Spouse A’s separate property, but the equity after the marriage may be considered community property.
Who Decides How Assets Are Divided?
The value of community assets is divided 50/50 under Idaho law. Determining what is community property and what is separate property could be done one of two ways.
If the spouses can agree on the assets and debt that comprise community property and those they each hold separately, and then can agree on how to divide the community property between them, they can document the division in a Marital Dissolution Agreement. This agreement is submitted by the couple to the court in an uncontested divorce.
If the spouses do not agree, the court will decide what is community and separate property, the value of community property, and the 50/50 split. The court renders such decisions in a contested divorce.
What Factors Does the Court Consider?
Value is how the court determines the equal division of assets and debts in Idaho divorces. There are some factors it will consider in making that determination.
- Idaho is both a no-fault and at-fault state for divorce. The conduct of a spouse, such as infidelity, can be a factor.
- The economic misconduct of a spouse may affect the value of community property. Economic misconduct includes such things as gambling debts, debts acquired by a spending, drug, or other addiction, and fraudulent use of marital income.
- The contributions one spouse made to the other’s education, training, or advancement may be considered.
- The court will consider the earning capacity of each spouse, perhaps awarding more community property to the spouse at an economic disadvantage.
- The spouse awarded physical custody of the children may receive a higher value because it will benefit the children.
- A prenuptial agreement can take precedence over the usual division of marital assets.