What is Community Property? It Can Impact You During a Divorce

Arizona, like some other states, is a community property state. What is community property? It means that married couples own the property acquired during their marriage together. Many people wonder how community property law is applied when it comes to divorce. Simply stated, when spouses divorce in Arizona they must consider all of their property as being owned jointly, regardless of which spouse paid for it. There are just a couple of exceptions to this rule. When divorcing, it is important that you know about all of your property so that you will be able to achieve a fair settlement.

Community Property Laws

In Arizona, property that has been acquired during the marriage belongs to both parties. Inheritances that were provided to one spouse alone are not considered part of community property. Also, gifts that you received are yours alone, unless they were gifted to both people jointly. For example, wedding gifts would be considered part of the couple’s community property regardless of whose friend or family member was the gifting person.

Shared Property

Even items that may be exempt from community property laws may still be considered part of the marital assets. When one party used the property or gifts as joint property, the result may be that the property is now actually considered to belong to both people.  For example, when one party spends inheritance money to purchase a home that is put into the names of both spouses, unless there was an agreement to the contrary, that separate property inheritance money would be considered a “gift” to the community. Generally, however, assets that were yours before you wed belong to you alone and are not part of the distribution of assets in a divorce settlement.

Division of Property

Since most of your property belongs to both spouses, it is to be divided in an equitable manner during a divorce. This means that each party should get approximately equal parts of the marital assets. It is important to keep in mind that along with asset division, debts must also be divided between spouses. The same rules hold true for debts as for assets. For instance, credit card debt is to be allocated evenly regardless of which spouse made the charges.

Resolving Disputes

Disputes can occur when couples start to split up their assets and debts. It is usually best for couples to try to work out their differences before going in front of a judge. Your attorney will help you stay focused on what is important and will assist in resolving problems while watching out for what is in your best interest. If you have questions about community property in your divorce, contact the skilled legal team at Udall Shumway to discuss your situation.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding What Is Community Property?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.