How Do Assets Get Divided In An Arizona Divorce?

In an Arizona divorce, the parties’ community property must be divided equitably. The Arizona Divorce Laws are as follows;

What is community property? Community property includes any property obtained during the marriage.  The exception is property one party obtains through gift on inheritance.

What does equitably mean? The law says community property should be “equitably” divided.  That means that the division should be near equal.  In other words, instead of dividing a couch in half, one person may get the couch and the other person may get the big screen television.  Sometimes one person gets more of the assets in exchange for some other benefit, and sometimes one person gets more of the assets and pays the other person an equalizing payment.

What type of property is typically divided?  Divided property could include real property, personal property (furniture, electronics), vehicles, insurance policies, businesses, frequent flyer miles, investments, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and even pets.

When does a party have an interest in the other party’s property?  Sometimes the community (both parties jointly) can obtain an interest in one party’s separate property through gift or through both parties’ contribution to the property during the marriage.  For example,    If one party had a house prior to marriage and the parties used funds earned during the marriage to increase the value of the house, the community would have a “community lien” on the house.

Who decides how to divide the assets? Ideally, the parties will come to their own agreements.  Parties can mediate their divorce.  The parties can hire a neutral party – the mediator – who is a trained in the law and conflict resolution, to help them find a fair resolution.  The mediator can also prepare all of the paperwork with the divorce.  With mediation, the parties have a lot more flexibility on how to divide assets.  The parties can even choose to continue to jointly own assets.  Some people choose to do this if they want to, say, hold on to a house until the market improves.  Absent an agreement of the parties, the Judge decides the division after a trial.

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com.  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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