Property division is the process of dividing property rights and obligations between spouses during a divorce. Arizona is a community property state.
Assets acquired by spouses during a marriage, except those acquired by gift or inheritance, are designated as community property.
In a divorce, the community property is divided equitably between the spouses, which in most situations means equally. Property division may be agreed upon between the spouses resulting in a property settlement agreement, or property may be divided in court by a judge during a divorce trial. Although in most circumstances community property is divided equally, Arizona courts have the authority to consider excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community property by a spouse and to award a greater than 50% share of the remaining community property to the other spouse to compensate him/her for such economic misconduct. Such cases are very complex and can greatly benefit from the involvement of competent, experienced legal counsel.
Arizona is a community property state. Simply put, all property acquired during the marriage except for gifts or inheritance is considered to be community property. Assets that were brought into the marriage by one spouse are considered to be that spouse’s sole and separate property and are not subject to division unless there has been a commingling of these assets. In some cases, the appreciation or increased value of a separate asset might be considered to be community property. Under those circumstances, an experienced attorney would need to review the facts to determine if a community interest exists.
An Arizona divorce includes the division of all community or marital property owned by the couple. Usually, this property includes most of the property that was acquired during the marriage, including the home(s), home furnishings and appliances, vehicles, financial assets, art, investments, a privately owned business, and retirement accounts. In some cases, intangible property may need be divided. Intangible property that is divisible might include the value on an invention patent or the goodwill in a business. When both spouses make a significant contribution to this value, these intangible assets may be divided. Through discovery, an attorney can help a spouse to identify all the assets that are available for division and valuation.
In Arizona, community property is divided equitably. Note that “equitably” does not necessarily mean “equally.” Rather, property is divided in a manner that the Judge decides is fair. There are no statutory factors which the Judge is required to consider in dividing property, so the judge retains a high level of discretion and flexibility. What is considered “equitable” is typically very fact specific, and each case is unique – however, common factors to be considered include the length of marriage, each spouse’s respective contributions to the marriage, and the source of funds used to purchase the property in question. Division of property can be either done by the judge or agreed upon mutually by the parties. However, reaching the division of property you desire can be a complex and delicate process. Consulting an attorney who is well-versed and knowledgeable about Arizona community property law is advisable.