Families and Couples

Matrimonial Regimes: Community of Property


The matrimonial regime of community of property used to apply automatically to all couples married before July 1, 1970 who had not chosen a matrimonial regime in a notarized marriage contract. Spouses today can still choose the community of property regime in a marriage contract.

What Community of Property Includes

The spouses’ property is divided into three categories under the community of property regime:

  • husband’s or wife’s private property, which includes certain buildings, gifts of property, inherited property left to the husband or wife as private property, some types of compensation received for physical or psychological injury, and certain debts
  • community property, which includes certain property the spouses owned before they were married, property acquired during the marriage that is not private property, as well as all of the spouses’ debts
  • wife’s reserved property, which includes her salary, her savings, and any property and buildings she bought using her salary

Spouses’ Rights and Powers During the Marriage

Under the matrimonial regime of community of property, the husband and wife don’t have the same powers.

The husband can manage, use and dispose of his private property. He manages the community property on his own, but he needs his wife’s consent or the court’s authorization to give away valuable community property, or to sell or mortgage community property, movable property belonging to the family, or a business.

The wife can manage, use and dispose of her private property. She manages her reserved property on her own, but she needs her husband’s consent or the court’s authorization to give away reserved property, to sell or mortgage a building that is part of her reserved property, movable property belonging to the family, or a business.

Also, no matter what the matrimonial regime of the spouses, there are exceptions concerning the family residence and the debts taken on to meet the family’s needs.

Partition of Property at the End of the Marriage

The spouses must begin by partitioning or dividing the family property, which is officially called the “family patrimony“.

Next, the wife can accept or waive the community property. If she accepts it, the community property and the reserved property will be divided equally between the spouses. Unlike the partnership of acquests regime, where the VALUE of the property is divided, under community of property the spouses become co-owners. If the wife waives the community property, the husband will keep the community property and she will keep her reserved property.