Navigating divorce can be complex -- not only emotionally, but also financially. This is the case whether your marriage lasted a handful of years or it lasted decades.
Because the financial decisions you make during divorce can affect you long term, having an in-depth understanding of the asset distribution process in Arizona is paramount. Here is a look at the way the Grand Canyon State handles the division of property in divorce cases.
Community property in Arizona
The court considers every item that you and the other party acquired together during your marriage as marital property. For this reason, you have to split these assets when you divorce. However, not every state's approach to addressing the division of property is the same.
Arizona is a community property state, which means you and the other party have to split all of your property in an equal manner when you divorce -- in other words, 50/50. The opposite happens in the majority of other states, which practice equitable distribution. In these other states, judges split property in an equitable, or fair manner, based on multiple factors. In these situations, the split may not necessarily be 50/50 if one party earned more and thus contributed more financially than the other party did, for example.
What is not considered community property?
Based on Arizona law, you and the other party do not need to divide separate property when you divorce. Separate property refers to any assets that either of you owned prior to your marriage. These items may include the following:
- Assets purchased before you walked down the aisle
- Birthday gifts
- Family heirlooms
If you happened to receive compensation in a personal injury civil suit before getting married, this money also counts as separate property. However, if you use the funds to buy an asset for you and the other party to share, the court could view this asset as community property, so it could be subject to division along with other marital property.
Your rights when dealing with asset distribution
If possible, you and the other party can work on resolving your asset distribution issues via negotiations or divorce mediation, rather than proceeding to trial. If you cannot see eye to eye in this area, however, a judge will end up deciding for you how you will split your property. Either way, you have the right to seek the best outcome for yourself considering the facts of your divorce case.