Arizona Divorce & Property Division Attorney
Property Division Issues during Arizona Divorces
At Bishop & Martin Law Office, our attorneys help people dealing with the complex issues and questions (See our divorce and family law Q&A) surrounding property division during a divorce and enforcement issues after a divorce. To learn more about any of the following questions, contact one of our offices in Phoenix or Tempe, Arizona.
- Community Property
- Sole and Separate Property
- Community Debts
- Sole and Separate Debts
- Business Valuation Issues
In Arizona, property acquired during marriage from the parties’ incomes and efforts is called “community property”. Community property generally includes financial accounts, investments, retirement and pension accounts, houses, land, business interests, tangible items such as furniture and other items and interests that have value. As a general rule, community property is divided between the parties equally during a divorce , although there are some exceptions. For example, if one of the parties wasted (gambling, drugs, etc.) community property or hid community property, the Court may award the other party more property.
Sole and Separate Property:
In Arizona, property acquired prior to marriage, through inheritance, and/or from gifts from other people besides their spouse, is presumed to be that person’s sole and separate property and is not divided. However, in some instances, the property’s nature as sole and separate may be changed. For example, if a party deposits sole and separate funds to a community account and such funds were co-mingled or spent, such would be presumed to have become community property. On the other hand, if co-mingled sole and separate funds can be traced to their source, they may retain their nature as sole and separate property.
Another example where sole and separate property may be converted to community property is where a party has a house in their own name prior to marriage but later places the house in both parties’ names. In such event, the house would generally be presumed to have become community property. There are always exceptions to these general rules. The firm suggests that you always consult with an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.
There may be a number of financial issues regarding your specific circumstances. For example, retirement accounts and pension benefits may be partially community property and partially separate property depending upon when the contributions were made. A spouse is entitled to receive his or her share of non-vested retirement and pension benefits in the future, if the benefits eventually vest.
If a spouse or both spouses own a business, such business may need to be valued. Some of the business value may have been acquired prior to marriage, and some of the interests accrued after marriage. These are issues that you should always discuss with an attorney. See Business Valuation Issues
As a general rule, the debts incurred during marriage will be divided equally. There are exceptions to this presumption.
Sole and Separate Debts:
Debts incurred prior to marriage are generally the responsibility of the person incurring such debts. Debts incurred during marriage are generally community debts even if only one of the spouses incurred such debts, and even if such debt is only in one spouse's name. Debts incurred after a divorce proceeding is filed and served is generally the responsibility of the person incurring such debts. However, certain precautions should be made, as you may still be responsible for such debts to the creditors. These are issues that you should always discuss with an attorney.
The firm will provide you with its opinions regarding your community and sole and separate property and debts during your consultation.
To sit down with an experienced family law and divorce lawyer to discuss property division during a divorce, contact Bishop & Martin Law Office today.