While divorce in Arizona involves several contentious issues, property division, and property settlement are among the most notable ones. The divorcing partners are usually anxious about how property division will affect them financially. Disagreements about property division can make the dissolution of the marriage process unnecessarily long and exhausting.
Unlike most states, which use the equitable distribution principle while dividing property in divorce, Arizona is among the few community property states. Accordingly, divorcing spouses in Arizona share marital property equally. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the help of an expert property settlement attorney to guide you through the divorce process.
The attorney will help you understand how Arizona divides property while protecting your rights in the divorce process. At RPM Law, our property settlement divorce lawyers are familiar with the Arizona property division process. They will guide you through it and defend your rights where necessary.
Community vs. Separate Property
Arizona law considers all property acquired by the husband or the wife while married as community or marital property. Exceptions include any property that is acquired as a gift, an inheritance, or after the service of a petition to dissolve the marriage. Community property may include marital homes, commercial property, vehicles, and family business ventures.
The law considers any property a spouse owned before marriage as the separate property of that spouse. Separate property also includes any property a spouse acquired during marriage as a gift, or an inheritance, including all the rents and interests from such property. There is no division of separate property in a divorce.
Essentially, whether an asset is a community or a separate property depends on how and when it was acquired. However, in some cases, separate property can turn into community property where the spouses combine their property during the marriage in what is known as commingling. Depending on the situation, separate property will become either partly or fully a community property.
Property Division in Arizona
In Arizona, divorcing spouses can either divide marital property through a settlement agreement or have the court do it on their behalf. Since Arizona is a community property state, the court divides equally all assets and debts a divorcing couple acquires while married. Whether property division is through a settlement agreement or by the court, it involves four major steps, including:
- Identification of assets and debts. The process begins with taking an inventory of all the property, including identifying assets and debts.
- Classification. This step involves determining and classifying everything the couple listed in the identification step as either separate or community property.
- Valuation. After classifying property as separate and community, the next step is determining the value of the community or marital property for division. A valuation can be through the couple’s agreement on the value or an expert’s testimony.
- Distribution of community assets and debts. Following valuation, the court or the couple divides and distributes the community property appropriately.
Contact an Arizona Property Settlement Attorney
While having a settlement agreement is the ideal property division method, most divorcing couples cannot agree on almost anything. These disagreements mean the court has to divide marital property equally and fairly between the divorcing spouses. People who have been married for a few years and don’t have a lot of property to divide can handle their divorce without legal help. However, most Arizona divorces involve complicated property division for people who have been married for more than a few years. Accordingly, property division ends up before a judge hence the need to have an expert property settlement lawyer by your side. Our skilled and experienced property settlement lawyers at RPM Law will help you fairly and equitably divide marital property in a divorce. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our services.