What Is Community Property?

Home being soldIn Arizona, community marital property is divided as part of the divorce. But what exactly is community property? In Arizona, the laws about community property are broad. Any property, asset, or item of value (which includes intangible assets such as degrees, certifications, copyrights, trademarks, and professional licenses) that is acquired (bought, earned, or otherwise obtained) by either spouse during the marriage is considered to be community property, property that belongs to both spouses equally. The exceptions include anything that is received as a gift or inheritance. This includes gifts from spouse to spouse, so if your spouse gives you a car, it is not community property. If your grandmother leaves you her house, that is not community property.

Community property also does not include anything acquired once a divorce or separation action is begun. If you file today and tomorrow your spouse buys a lottery ticket with his own money and wins, that is not community property.

Assets can be transformed from separate property to community property if the other spouse helps to maintain or improve the value of the item. For example, if you own a rental property prior to marriage and during the marriage your spouse helps you pay the mortgage on that property or helps you keep up the property and do repairs, a portion of the increase in value of the property may become community property.

The person who is claiming something is separate property has the burden of proving it is in fact separate property in Arizona. If this can’t be adequately proven, the item will be considered to be community property and will be divided in the divorce.

The Sampair Group provides excellent and detailed advice about the division of community and separate property in your Maricopa County divorce. Call our office to schedule an appointment today to protect your assets.