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CHAPTER 6

MARITAL ESTATES

Introductory Note:  In this chapter, we examine the special property problems raised by the fact that two people having an interest in property are married. Any discussion of property rights during marriage must be divided into the common-law system (followed in most states) on the one hand, and the system of community property (followed in eight states) on the other hand. Therefore, our first three sections treat three different aspects of the common-law system: property rights during marriage, property rights upon divorce, and property rights on death of one spouse. Then, we treat the community-property system. Next, we treat various non-traditional approaches to marriage, including domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage. Finally, we discuss briefly homestead laws, which protect the family residence from seizure by creditors.

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