Arizona is known for its low housing costs, great public transportation systems and ample employment opportunities. These are often among the top reasons many married couples choose to settle here and raise their families. Of course, not every marriage lasts a lifetime, which is why it pays to know another unique factor about this state: Property division in divorce operates under community property guidelines.
There are only eight other states that use community property guidelines to split marital assets and liabilities between spouses in divorce. Following such guidelines, most family court judges will split all marital property 50/50 between spouses. Whether this leads to an increase in hidden asset schemes is debatable; however, a concerned spouse is wise to investigate any issue that raises a red flag, such as money being withdrawn from a jointly owned account without both spouses’ consent.
The term “marital property” typically refers to all assets and interests acquired during marriage. The majority of states operate under equitable property rules, meaning a division of assets will always be fair but not necessarily 50/50. If a spouse has acquired a particular property, money or other asset through inheritance, such interests are typically classified as separately owned property in divorce.
Any property that was owned by one spouse before marriage would also be categorized as separately owned property. Whether or not a couple signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding day may also have significant impact on property division proceedings should a divorce occur later on. To avoid stress and confusion, it is helpful to consult with an experienced Arizona family law attorney before heading to court, especially if a particular property issue is a matter of concern.