Ending a marriage is an unfortunate circumstance that comes with many emotions and complexities. To add to an already stressful question arises of, “what do we do with all of our stuff”? “what happens to my retirement accounts, bank accounts, investments, my Grandmother’s porcelain figurine collection?”. It’s important to know your state’s laws when it comes to the division of property in the event of Divorce. Arizona is a community property state, which means that assets and debts are divided equally between spouses. This applies primarily towards assets and debt that were accrued throughout the marriage, with a few exceptions that will be mentioned. It’s important to know your rights in the event of a divorce, we always recommend speaking with a divorce lawyer before going it alone to know all your options.
Arizona a Community Property State
As a community property state, Arizona considers all property and assets obtained throughout the marriage jointly owned between two spouses. In most cases, a 50/50 divide is considered a fair division by the judge regardless of who purchased the item or who’s name is on the title. Of course, there are exceptions to this law based on the judge’s interpretation on a case-by-case basis. Also, there is always a hopeful chance that things can be settled by a mutual agreement between spouses through a property settlement. Things tend to go much more smoothly when both parties show a bit of civility not to mention much cheaper, see our blog on How a Little Civility Can Save You a Lot of Money.
What’s Considered Community Property
Community property, as mentioned above, is all assets and debt acquired through the duration of the marriage. This property is divided equally, not including property that is acquired prior to the marriage, inheritance, or gifts to one party. Some examples of assets/debt that will be considered community property are:
- Wages & Income from both spouses
- Dividends & capital gains from investments
- Real estate, vehicles, furniture, etc.
- Debts, including mortgages, tax debt, loans, etc.
- Retirement Accounts
- And yes, Grandmother’s porcelain figurine collection if it was left to both parties.
There are exceptions to this of course which can include gifts and inheritance to one spouse during the course of the marriage. This can be considered separate property unless mixed with your spouse and the property losses. Community waste is another one of those exceptions, which can be defined as a spouse spending money on a gambling habit or other activities that do not benefit the “community” of the marriage. Both these exceptions can be difficult to distinguish or establish, so it may be beneficial for you to file for divorce earlier than later. Separating early can help to minimize the responsibility of debts incurred by the other spouse. (For more information on Arizona’s Marital Property Law see Arizona Revised Statute: §25-318)
Division of property laws in Arizona can be complex with many gray areas in-between and if you’re unsure how these may apply to your situation, family lawyer Adam Weingart has years of experience dealing with property division. Speak to a Phoenix divorce attorney to better understand the property division laws. The Weingart Family Law Firm offers Free 30-minute consultations to help you understand all your options.