We represent clients in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area in divorce cases that involve the division of their marital property. The state of Arizona employs a community property system to ensure the responsible division of the assets and debts of the divorcing couple.
Every state is different when it comes to the system set up for the division of property. If you and your former spouse are going through a divorce, we here at Sheinson Law suggest that you get into contact with an experienced and knowledgeable legal team to ensure that you get your fair share of the property.
The legal team here at Sheinson Law group has many years of experience providing our divorce clients with the utmost in fierce and compassionate representation. We believe that our service should be entirely focused on you and making this very difficult and complicated experience as easy as possible.
We will do everything in our power to safeguard your interests and ensure that you get a fair portion of the marital assets that you’ve worked so hard for. Our legal team, led by Lonny Sheinson, offers the best in family law representation. We promise to provide you with completely personal representation to ensure that your interests are protected.
If you are in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area and are going through a divorce, please give us a call to set up your consultation to discuss the details of your case. We care about both you and your case. We know how difficult and confusing these divorce cases can be and we will do everything possible to ensure that your interests are protected so you can move on with your life in a positive direction.
Understanding Arizona Community Property Division
The state of Arizona uses a community property system to divide the marital assets and debts. This community property system groups all the marital assets and debts into one pool called the “Marital Community” which is then divided up amongst the former spouses regardless of whose name is on the title. Arizona Revised Statute §25-318 deals with the disposition of property and debts, stating in subparts A and B:
A. In a proceeding for dissolution of the marriage, or for legal separation, or in a proceeding for disposition of property following dissolution of the marriage by a court that previously lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or previously lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the property, the court shall assign each spouse’s sole and separate property to such spouse. Except as provided in section 25-318.02, it shall also divide the community, joint tenancy and other property held in common equitably, though not necessarily in kind, without regard to marital misconduct. For the purposes of this section only, property acquired by either spouse outside this state shall be deemed to be community property if the property would have been community property if acquired in this state.
B. In dividing property, the court may consider all debts and obligations that are related to the property, including accrued or accruing taxes that would become due on the receipt, sale or other disposition of the property. The court may also consider the exempt status of particular property pursuant to title 33, chapter 8.
However, if the couple has signed either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that provides a clearly stated and system of property division then the community property system doesn’t apply. Instead, the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement’s provisions will apply. Without a pre or postnuptial agreement, the regular method of property division will be enforced and the couple’s property and debts will be divided up from the Marital Community.
Is It Community Property or Separate Property?
The most vital part of the marital community division is the classification of the property from the marriage, which requires an experienced and dedicated attorney to ensure that you get to keep any property that belongs to you outside of the marriage.
The legal team here at Sheinson Law Group will rigorously review the property from the marriage to determine whether the assets you owned belonged to you outside of the marriage (you get to keep it) or if it falls into the distinction of community property.
Provided below are some of the general guidelines used to determine whether the property falls into the category of community property:
- Any assets or debts earned or incurred during the marriage most likely fall into the category of community property, regardless of whether you yourself earned the assets or your spouse was the one to take on the debt. Assets are defined as any money earned from the employment of one of the spouses as well as any of the items purchased with that income.
- Any assets acquired from gifts or given to you via inheritance are most likely considered separate property and therefore not placed into the category of community property.
- Any assets that you earned from employment prior to the marriage are generally considered separate property, as long as those assets were not commingled with any community property.
- It is entirely possible for your individual pension plan or any retirement investment accounts to be considered community property. This means that your spouse may have a valid claim to at least a part of the value of your pension and retirement accounts; it is also possible for percentages of the pension and retirement accounts to be considered community property while the rest is left untouched as separate property. (For instance, if one spouse works for five years while in the marriage and 5 years outside the marriage, then only a portion equal to the 5 years of the marriage of the pension will be considered community property).
- If you owned and operated a business while you were in the marriage you will most likely still be able to keep own your business. However, it is possible that an appraisal and community property tracing of your company’s total value will be completed and your former spouse may have a claim to that his or her share of the community value of the business.
While an item may be considered separate property at the time you earned or were given it, it is entirely possible for those assets to change character over the course of your marriage. The term generally used for this is commingling and can be a very complex and frustrating part of the marital property division.
For instance, if you received an inheritance from a close family member it would be determined to be separate property. However, if you have allowed any of the money you were given in your inheritance to be mixed with any money considered to be community property then it is possible for your former spouse to have a claim to that money. If the money given to you in an inheritance is placed into a joint bank account, that money may be considered commingled and therefore it may become community property to which your spouse may have a claim.
The entire process of commingling can be extremely difficult and complex to apply to your own assets, which is where the legal team here at Sheinson Law Group can help you to determine the status of any assets you may have.
What About Property Acquired While Living in Another State?
It is quite common in the state of Arizona for one of the spouses to have lived and gained assets in another state before they married their spouse. In most cases like this, the couple owns property or assets in the state that they lived in before coming to the state of Arizona. The state of Arizona will apply Arizona Law to those assets in determining their status in your divorce case.
Contact a Scottsdale Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about community property division or any other family law issue, call 480-365-0340 or contact our law firm online to speak with our skilled Arizona family law attorney.