Settling an Arizona divorce in a community property state

Although going through a divorce involves a myriad of details that are difficult to deal with, division of property may be one of the hardest. Separating property and assets that a couple has accumulated throughout their years of marriage can be emotionally trying. While some couples are able to amicably discuss the division of their items and reach a settlement on their own terms, others need legal assistance to split their finances and property.

Community property state

Arizona is one of nine states that implements a community property model when determining property and asset division in a divorce, according to the Huffington Post. In these states, marriage is considered a 50/50 partnership, which results in the belief that all marital property and assets are equally owned. The judge simply splits all marital assets and property in half, regardless of whether or not the division seems fair to either party. Details, such as age, employment and health, do not influence the judge's decision when dividing property and assets; however, they may come into play when considering child and spousal support.

Separate property vs. marital property

Not all property and assets involved in a divorce dispute are necessarily classified as marital property and subject to equal distribution. Certain items and assets may be referred to as separate property, according to the Arizona State Legislature. This includes:

  • Any property or assets that are obtained after the couple has filed for legal separation or divorce.
  • Any property or assets that are given to either spouse as a gift.
  • Any property or assets that are inherited by either spouse.
  • Any property or assets that were owned by either spouse prior to the marriage.

According to Forbes, people who deposit their separate assets into a shared bank account with their spouse may run the risk of losing the money's separate status. Likewise, if a spouse's name is added to the deed of a separate property, it also loses its separate ownership and becomes marital property.

Keep in mind that all funds accumulated during the marriage are subject to equal division, including assets that may be listed under one spouse's name. For example any money added to an estate from stock options, bonuses, 401K plans, life insurance plans, annuities and retirement plans, throughout the duration of the marriage is considered marital. Businesses, professional practices, antiques, boats and cars obtained during the marriage are subject to distribution as well.

Get legal assistance

The stress of an emotional divorce may cause some people to make poor decisions regarding the terms of their divorce settlement. Speaking with an established lawyer can help you understand all of your legal options and ensure that you choose the best route for your specific case.