Arizona is one of eight states that observe community property laws. This means that Arizona courts are required to follow community property law principles when dividing community property in divorce hearings. In any case, you should always consult with a divorce lawyer in Glendale at The Sampair Group. This requirement ensures that courts identify all of the spouses’ property and then classify it as either property owned by both spouses together, or if it is property that belongs to only one spouse. They will then value the property that is determined to be community property and fairly divide these assets.
Community property is assets that a husband and wife own together and were acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Arizona classifies the following as a married couple’s joint property:
– Any income received by either spouse during the marriage
– Any real or personal property acquired with income earned during the marriage. This includes vehicles, homes, furniture, appliances and luxury items.
– Any debts acquired during the marriage
Regardless of who earns or spends the income, spouses own and owe everything equally under community property laws.
There is however, certain guidelines for what stays separate in states that recognize community property:
– All property owned by a spouse prior to marriage.
– Property obtained by a spouse after a legal separation.
– Any property received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage from a third party (as long as this property remains separate from community property, such as joint banking accounts).
Pre-marriage debts will remain separate property after marriage, such as student loans that were taken out before the marriage. However, if one spouse adds the other’s name to a deed or lease, even before the marriage, that home becomes community property.
If one spouse is self-employed, both parties will receive a community property interest in some or all of the income earned from that spouses business, including property purchased with those funds. This amount is determined by a business appraisal to evaluate all of the profits of the business earned.
Once the court determines the classification of property, the judge then awards each spouse the property that belongs to him or her separately, and will then divide the remaining community property.
While assets will usually not greatly increase in value during a divorce case, there are some circumstances where the value of assets will change significantly during the proceedings. It is then that the court will determine the date that the assets were valued and use this information in making their decision. Arizona courts are granted broad discretion to choose a date of valuation, but will do it in a way that is as fair to both parties as possible. Not all assets will have the same value dates.
In Arizona, there are some exceptions to the requirement that property be divided as equally as possible. For instance, if it is proven that a spouse wasted a substantial amount of the community assets through an activity such as gambling, drug activity or if they are found to have been hiding assets, the other spouse can request more than their equal half, or can ask that the other spouse be solely responsible for the large debt accrued.
In determining the division of assets and whether they are community property and subject to fair division, each case requires careful analysis and patience. For more information on community property and how you can keep yourself and your assets legally protected in a divorce, consult with a Phoenix divorce lawyer today.