One of the main concerns people have when facing divorce is what will happen to their personal property. If you have made the choice to end your marriage, you may want to take the time to understand how the property division process works. When you know what to expect, you will be less likely to find yourself involved in stressful and complex disputes.
Arizona is a community property state. It is in your interests to know what this means for you, particularly if you and your spouse will not be able to reach an agreement on divorce terms out of court. The choices you make during divorce will impact you for years to come, and it is smart to be cautious and careful as you move forward through this process.
What is community property?
If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement together on what your final divorce order should look like, you have the right to divide marital property in whatever way is satisfactory to both parties. A final agreement is subject to review and approval by a family court.
If you will not be able to resolve your property division issues on your own, the court will divide marital assets according to community property laws. This means court begins with the presumption that the two spouses will have to divide all marital property equally. Marital property includes everything earned, bought or accumulated over the course of the marriage, such as:
- Home furnishings
- Valuable assets or interest earned
- Wages earned by both spouses
- Real estate and the family home
The same principle applies to the division of marital debt -- whatever the two spouses accumulated over the course of the marriage will have to be divided between the two parties.
Separate property is not eligible for division, such as an inheritance received by one spouse, stuff owned by one party before marriage and gifts given to one spouse. As you may know, determining whether something is community property or separate property is the source of many divorce-related disputes.
Your long-term well-being
In divorce, it's easy to allow emotions to lead your decision-making process, but this does not always result in practical, beneficial solutions. If you are facing divorce and have concerns over what will happen to your property, you may want to seek legal counsel and an explanation of your rights. When it is your long-term interests on the line, you may benefit from having experienced guidance.