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Is Idaho a community property state?

Wondering whether Idaho is a community property state? Read on for the answer and everything you need to know about community property in ID.

evident Editorial Team
November 27, 2023
Boise, Idaho

Yes, Idaho is a community property state. But community property laws vary from state to state, and there are some quirks to Idaho community property law that set it apart from other community property states.

In this article, we will cover everything you should know about Idaho community property laws, including what qualifies as community property, how it gets divided during an Idaho divorce, and how Idaho is different from other community property states.

Key Takeaways

What is a community property state?

Community property states consider property and assets acquired during a marriage to be owned equally by both parties, subject to limited exceptions. In the event of a divorce, couples are required to divide community property and assets equally, which in most cases is by an equal 50/50 split.

There are only nine community property states, though, including Idaho. The other community property states are:

Meanwhile, equitable distribution states are states in which marital property is divided equitably (but not necessarily equally) when a couple divorces. In these states, courts determine a fair allocation of marital property based on a list of factors that vary by state law.

What is separate property?

A crucial factor when considering how property will be divided during a divorce in Idaho is distinguishing between community property and separate property, which are treated differently.

Separate property in Idaho includes:

  • Property owned by a spouse prior to a marriage
  • Gifts or inheritances received during a marriage
  • Property acquired with separate property (e.g. a car purchased exclusively with separate property funds)
  • Separate property by written agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement)
  • Property conveyed (i.e. given) by one spouse to the other spouse 

Can separate property become community property in Idaho?

 Spouses often mix their separate property with community property which is called commingling. (For instance, consider a spouse who adds separate property assets they owned prior to marriage into a joint bank account).

Commingling property can result in the separate property losing its status as separate and becoming community property, which is called transmutation. 

Transmutation occurs when a spouse has changed the character and nature of separate property such that it is impossible to disentangle where community property ends and separate property begins.

Commingled property can thus complicate property division because it can make the two types of property indistinguishable. 

What is community property in Idaho?

In Idaho, community property is property acquired during the course of a marriage and is generally considered to be owned equally by each spouse in a marriage. 

An important note about Idaho community property law is that, unlike other community property states such as California, any profits generated from separate property during a marriage are considered to be community property.

For instance, the rent generated by a spouse's separate rental property is considered community property. This is different from other community property states where rents or profits generated by separate property are usually also considered separate property.

Examples of community property in Idaho

Community property in Idaho can be either personal property or real property.

  • Personal property: includes items such as cars, furniture, clothes, electronics, other household items, money in checking or savings accounts, stocks, and retirement accounts
  • Real property: includes homes, land, or other real estate. Also, any rents, issues, or profits from these properties, whether the underlying property is community or separate property. 

What are community funds?

Community funds are funds earned during a marriage by either spouse, such as their income from a job. Community funds belong to both spouses.

Under Idaho law, any assets acquired by community funds during a marriage are considered community property. For example, if a spouse purchased a car using community funds, the car would be considered community property in Idaho (regardless of whose name the car was purchased under or who used it).

Knowing which funds were used to acquire property can thus be crucial when considering Idaho property division.

What are community debts?

Under Idaho law, debts are treated the same way as other assets and property. Any debt acquired during a marriage is considered to be community debt and is shared by both spouses.

Thus, all community debts are required to be divided equally among a couple during a divorce. Some common debts that might be divided equally among a couple are mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts. 

How is community property divided in Idaho?

Idaho community property law states there should be a "substantially equal division in value" of community property between spouses unless "compelling reasons" favor a different outcome. Thus, a court will determine the value of the marital estate and then aim to divide it in such a way that each spouse gets approximately half of the total value.

For example, if a divorcing couple owned a family home that was marital property, the court would aim to provide each spouse with a substantially equal portion of marital property, regardless of whether one person ended up with sole ownership of the home. If one person indeed kept ownership of the home, the court would award the other spouse property roughly equal in value.

Meanwhile, if there are compelling reasons not to divide marital property equally, factors that courts look to when determining a different division of property include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Any prenuptial agreement between the parties
  • The age, health, occupation, income, employability, and liabilities of each spouse 
  • The needs of each spouse 
  • Whether either spouse will pay spousal support to the other 
  • The present and future earning capacity of each spouse
  • Retirement benefits (e.g. social security or military benefits)

The final word on community property in Idaho

So, is Idaho a community property state? Yes, it is, and almost all property acquired during the marriage of a couple is considered to be owned jointly.

But when a couple divorces, Idaho property division does not have to be an exact 50/50 split. Instead, property division laws in Idaho call for a "substantially equal" divide of community property based on the net marital estate, accounting for both assets and community debts.

Separate property, meanwhile, is not divided equally. Instead, it remains the sole and separate property of each spouse following a divorce.

And while the difference between community and separate property in Idaho is broadly similar as compared to other community property states, one key difference is the treatment of rents and profits from separate property. Idaho law designates the rents and profits generated from separate property during a marriage as community property, whereas other states would consider such property as separate.

If you have other questions about Idaho property division laws, consider speaking with an experienced divorce attorney today.