Navigating Complex Debt And Asset Division
Community property is everything that spouses own together. It includes everything you accumulated while you were married — including debt — that is not a gift or inheritance.
Community property also includes all the earnings that either spouse (or both of you) earned during the marriage and everything bought with those earnings. Any debt you incur, including that in the name of only one spouse, is considered community property.
Community property and community debts are usually divided equally. In Arizona, each spouse owns one-half of the community property. Each spouse or partner is also responsible for one-half of the debt.
Quasi-community property is any type of property that was acquired by either one or both spouses when living in another state that, had it been acquired while living in Arizona, would have been considered community property.
In other words, if you or your spouse lived outside of Arizona during your marriage and you had any earnings, bought any real estate or acquired any other type of property that in Arizona would be community property, that property is called quasi-community property, and in a divorce or legal separation in Arizona, it will be treated as community property.
Separate property is anything you owned before you were married, including:
- Inheritances or gifts to one spouse
- Rents or profits from separate property
- Property purchased outside the marriage
If you have separate property, it belongs only to you, as long as it was kept separately. Debts can be separate property, too, such as credit cards you might get after the date of service.
Mixed Community And Separate Property — Commingling
Sometimes things are part separate property and part community property. This is called “commingling” because the separate property and community property have become mixed together. When property is a combination of separate or community property, it can get complicated to figure out how to divide it. A common example is when you or your spouse has a pension or retirement benefit from a job held before and during the marriage.
In general, when either spouse has a pension, a lawyer’s help is necessary given the complex nature of these assets. I have substantial experience with complex financial issues.