Arizona is one of 10 U.S. states where community property rules. While many couples have an amicable break-up and manage to settle disputes prior to going to court, there are many others who have reached a stage where there is a complete break in communication and no possibility of reaching agreements related to property division. These are the cases that end up in divorce court where it is up to the judge to divide property and debts as seen fit by the court.
In Arizona, all marital assets, including property and debt, are defined in one of two categories. Any assets that have to be divided during divorce procedures are either separate property or community property. When a couple divorces, community property will usually be divided on a 50/50 basis, while separate property will remain the property of the owner. Community property comprises assets acquired during a marriage and includes debts. Separate property is typically made up of assets acquired by a spouse before marriage and may include inheritances, gifts, pension proceeds and court awards.
However, separate property can become community property when, for instance, a business owned by one spouse before the marriage is sustained by funds belonging to the couple. Another example is when one spouse receives an inheritance that is not kept separate from the couple’s joint funds. Purchases that are acquired in the name of one party, but maintained by community property or with commingled funds, even if the assets are in the name of that party, may be regarded as commingled, and therefore community property.
The process of dividing the family home varies from court to court, especially when there are no children in the marriage. Neither one of the spouses has a legal right to the home, unless one party purchased it with personal funds, and it was not maintained by community property. If there are children involved, the parent who was the major care provider of the children is often awarded the home. However, any one of the two may request it, and if they cannot come to an agreement, it will be up to the court to make a decision on their behalf. Individuals in Arizona who are considering divorce may benefit from consulting with a professional to protect their interests in court.
Contact Our Divorce Attorney Mesa AZ
If you have more questions about property and debt, our attorneys can help. Call the Law Offices of Janice M. Palmer, P.C. at (480) 820-4771 or toll-free at (888) 352-7725 for a consultation.
Source: FindLaw, “What happens to our property and debt if we get divorced?“, , Aug. 24, 2014