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What is Community Property in Arizona Divorce?

Posted By Legal Team | June 6 2022 | Divorce

Arizona is a community property state when it comes to dividing assets in the event a divorce occurs. This means that all property acquired during the course of the marriage is considered to be equally owned by both spouses. It is crucial to understand the definition of community property, particularly if you are in the process of separating from your spouse.

Dividing Property During a Divorce – How Arizona Operates

The state of Arizona is a community property state. Community property laws control the division of all assets when a couple divorces. These laws presume that any personal and real property acquired during the course of the marriage is “community property,” which means that it is owned 50% by one spouse and 50% by the other spouse.

It is crucial to point out that property is not limited to what you would normally think about (houses, cars, bank accounts). Property in this community property state includes retirement accounts, investments, businesses, pension plans, any real estate, furniture, art, collectibles, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, other digital assets, and any other property that has a value that was obtained during the course of the marriage.

In addition to what would be considered assets, any debt acquired during the course of the marriage is also considered to be owned 50% by one spouse and 50% by the other. This includes credit card debt, mortgages, car notes, student loan debt, and more.

What About Property Acquired Before the Marriage?

Any property acquired before the marriage occurred is technically considered separate, and it belongs to the spouse who acquired it. Additionally, if a spouse receives an inheritance or gift from someone else, then this will also be considered separate property controlled by the spouse who received it.

However, when we talk about separate property, this property will only be considered separate as long as it is never commingled with marital assets. The comingling of assets is very easy to do and can be as simple as using separate property as collateral for a loan that will then become community “debt” between the two spouses.

Is an Attorney Needed to Divide Assets?

When a person is going through a divorce and Arizona, it is absolutely crucial that they work with an attorney throughout this process. The division of assets is often an incredibly contentious part of a divorce.

These community property issues are incredibly complex, and this can lead to a myriad of tough legal questions that require competent legal assistance. The reality is that there will need to be an extensive analysis of all assets and debts before a property division agreement can be reached. This can take some time, and it often requires assistance from accountants used to dealing with these situations. In some cases, it may be necessary to work with forensic accountants who can do a deep dive into the assets, particularly if one or both spouses have accused the other of hiding assets.

A skilled property division attorney in Arizona can help with every aspect of the process, including other facets of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, protective orders, and more.

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