Explanation of community property and community debt in Nevada

Community and Separate Property in Nevada

Community Property in Nevada.

Community property in Nevada is property that is owned jointly by spouses legally married.

Any property obtained by either spouse during the marriage is considered community property under NRS 123.220.  There are some exceptions, however:

  • When a prenuptial agreement or other contract between the spouses says otherwise;
  • When a court issues a ruling saying otherwise; or,
  • When the property is considered separate property of one of the spouses to begin with.  

A Spouses Rights in Community Property.

In Nevada, spouses own community property equally. During the marriage, either spouse may sell, spend or give away community property.  Again, there are some exceptions:

  • A spouse cannot give away more than one-half of the community property in his or her will;
  • A spouse can give away community property as a gift without the consent of the other spouse; and
  • A spouse cannot sell any real estate (a home, etc.) that is community property unless both spouses sign the deed.

Additionally, spouses must purchase community real estate together.

Separate Property in Nevada.

Separate property is property that is owned and controlled solely by one spouse. When property is separate, the other spouse has no interest in it.  The other spouse also has no right to control it.  As a result, he or she can sell or give away any separate property without the consent of the other spouse.

It should be noted, however, that property held as separate property is not subject to distribution between the spouses in the event of a divorce.

More Separate Property Specifics in Nevada.

Without an agreement stating otherwise, property is separate property in Nevada if:

  • It was owned by a spouse before marriage; or,
  • It was obtained during the marriage as a gift, by inheritance, or as an award of damages for personal injury to one spouse alone.

For example, any profit or rent a spouse receives from separate property is also the separate property of that spouse.

See, however, the cautions below about separate property becoming community property.

Separate Property Becoming Community Property.

Under some circumstances, separate property in Nevada can become community property. This occurs when separate property is commingled with community property. If the two types of property are indistinguishable it all becomes community property.

For instance:

Separate money kept in an account in one spouse’s name remains separate.

But if that money is deposited into a joint bank account, it becomes community property unless:

  • There is a written agreement or other document acknowledging that the amount is separate property; or
  • There is another way of tracking which funds are separate and which are community.

Community Debt.

Debts incurred during the marriage are considered community debts in Nevada. Both spouses are equally responsible for them.

Sometimes there is not enough community property to pay these debts. In that case, a creditor can seize the separate property of either spouse.

But if a spouse incurred a debt before the marriage neither the community nor the other spouse is liable for it.

This law was upheld in a recent Nevada Supreme Court case entitled Dubler v. Moret, 2009 WL 3711883.  In that case, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed Nevada statutory law where one spouse attempted to argue that a debt was not community debt even though it was acquired after marriage.  However, the Court disagreed when it stated, “Under Nevada law, community property is defined as all property, other than that stated in NRS 123.130 (which defines separate property), acquired after marriage by either husband or wife, or both. NRS 123.220. Here, the debt was incurred after marriage, and thus, is presumed to be a community debt. ”  Id.

If you have questions about debts incurred prior to, during, or after a marriage, feel free to contact Rise Legal at (702) 329-4911 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.


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