How Arizona Divides Community Property in a Divorce

Arizona is one of nine U.S. states that considers all of a married couple’s assets to be community property. This means that all income and property acquired by either spouse during a marriage are considered to belong to both spouses. For anyone considering getting a divorce, it is important to understand how community property will be divided.

Community property includes all real and personal property and all financial accounts acquired by the spouses during a marriage and all debts as well. So if one spouse takes out a significant loan during a marriage, that loan will be considered to be owned by both spouses in the event of a divorce.  If the couple decides to file for divorce and cannot reach a settlement agreement, Arizona courts will divide all of this community property fairly and equitably, though not necessarily equally.

As a general rule, a court will divide community property between the spouses without regard to marital fault. However, if one spouse engages in waste of marital assets — such as by disposing of property with the intent to defraud the other spouse — the guilty spouse’s share may be discounted by the amount of loss attributable to that conduct. For example, if one spouse made a reckless investment using $50,000 of marital property, that spouse’s share during a divorce might be discounted by $50,000.

The separate property of each spouse is not subject to division in a divorce. In Arizona, separate property includes (1) property owned by only one spouse before the marriage, (2) a gift or inheritance received by one spouse before or during the marriage or (3) property that is owned by only one spouse according to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

If you are contemplating a divorce, you will need to evaluate which of your assets are community property and which are separate property. If you and your spouse cannot come to a property settlement agreement, there are multiple factors that a court will consider to determine how community property will be divided. An experienced Arizona divorce attorney can advise you further about this process and what to expect in your particular case.

At Clark and Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, we help Arizona spouses in all aspects of divorce, including division of community property. If you have questions about how divorce will impact your financial situation, please call our office at 602-789-3497 or contact us online anytime.