Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Community Property

A method of defining the ownership of property acquired during marriage, in which all earnings during marriage and all property acquired with those earnings are owned in common and all debts incurred during marriage are the responsibility of both spouses. Typically, community property consists of all property and profits acquired during marriage, except property received by inheritance, gift, or as the profits from property owned before marriage. Community property laws exist in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Alaska, couples can create community property by written agreement. (See also: separate property, equitable distribution)