Arizona has chosen to be a “Community Property” State. In essence, property which is brought in before the marriage takes place, is what is known as “Separate Property.” This property is always retained by the original owner of the property. Also, during a marriage, inheritance and separate gifts are going to be designated as separate property. However, all property and debt which is obtained during the course of the marriage is what is known as “Community Property.” This usually starts on Day 1 of the marriage with wedding gifts. It has also been held that if a spouse obtains property in a different state (while they are married), this is considered to be Community Property if it would have been designated as such if actually acquired within Arizona while married. It is irrelevant whether one spouse was employed during the marriage, and the other spouse was a housewife or a house husband. Also, whether one party is at “fault” for the end of the marriage is also irrelevant when determining Community Property.
The common factor in dividing Community Property in Arizona is determining what value (or debt) was obtained during the marriage. This usually includes 401K plans, stock plans, pensions, benefits, deferred compensation, accrued vacation, frequent flyer miles, credit card points, copyrights, publishing rights, patents, etc. The court will also look into wasteful spending or wasteful destruction of Community Property assets. They will factor in fraudulent transfers and concealment when determining the “Property Division”. It is important to have skilled private investigators (such as the ones utilized by The Cantor Law Group) when tracking Community Property assets.
Judges will often order repayment of separate property into the community if one spouse utilized their time and talents (to a great degree) to improve their separate assets. For example, if one spouse was managing their individual/inherited company with community resources during the course of the marriage, this could be determined to be Community Property. In addition, inheritance money which is utilized to improve a community house can be ordered to be repaid to the inheriting spouse. Keep in mind, in Arizona, the courts often will place a lien upon a spouse’s separate property in order to guarantee that things such as Spousal Maintenance and Child Support are paid. This should be placed in the judge’s “Final Judgment” per the “Decree of Dissolution.”
Contact us or call The Cantor Law Group at (602)254-8880 immediately for a free initial consultation designed to provide helpful information regarding “Community Property” or “Property Division” as it applies to your individual situation.