Defining and Understanding What Things Are Community Property
"property acquired during the existence of the legal regime through the effort, skill, or industry of either spouse;"
"property acquired with community things or with community and separate things, unless classified as separate property under Article 2341;"
"property donated to the spouses jointly;"
"natural and civil fruits of community property;"
"damages awarded for loss or injury to a thing belonging to the community;" and
"all other property not classified by law as separate property."
Understanding the Legal Definition of Community Property
The legal regime exists during the marriage. The legal regime is terminated as of the date of a divorce, but the termination is retroactive to the filing date of the petition for divorce. The "effort, skill, or industry" of either spouse means any work, whether paid work for an employer, creative work like building, painting, or sewing things, or unpaid work.
Property acquired with community things means property gotten with money earned during the marriage or through the use of other community property. One example would be when spouses use a car purchased during the marriage as a trade-in to get a new car. Unless otherwise classified as separate property, a car purchased during the marriage with a trade-in that was one spouse's separate property would also be community property.
Any property jointly donated or gifted to both spouses during the marriage is classified as community property. If there is a written document that shows the donation, the Court will rely on that document to classify the property. If there is no written document, the Court will look to the circumstances of the donation or gift and the intent of the donor.
"Natural and civil fruits" are things produced by or derived from another thing without diminution of its substance. Natural fruits are "products of the earth or of animals." Civil fruits are "revenues derived from a thing by operation of law or by reason of a juridical act, such as rentals, interest, and certain corporate distributions."
Ownership and Management of Community Property During the Marriage
Each spouse owns an "undivided one-half interest" in community property. During the marriage and until the termination of the matrimonial regime, a spouse may not "alienate, encumber, or lease" their undivided interest in community property to a third person.