Arizona is one of the eight states that observe community property laws. This means that once two people are married, the property acquired belongs to their ‘community’ or family; their significant other. Community property includes income earned by either party and items bought with that income during the marriage, separate property that becomes inextricably commingled with community property, and separate property that has been legally transferred to the community.
What is not considered community property can be claimed as separate property. Separate property classification covers property owned before the marriage, inherited by only one spouse, given as a gift to only one spouse, or anything acquired after a legal separation. In the State of Arizona, as a community property state, all property owned by other party is presumed to be community property. This places the burden of proof on the spouse to claim a piece of property is separate and should not be included in the division of community property.
Community property laws come into play most often during divorce and legal separation proceedings. It is possible for the two parties to reach an equitable property settlement agreement amongst themselves and their attorneys. However, if they are unable to reach an agreement, it becomes the court’s responsibility to categorize property as either community or separate and then divide assets accordingly.
Knowing what is considered community property and separate property is key in reaching a settlement agreement that best suits your needs. A skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney can help you fight for what is yours. If you are considering divorce or legal separation, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Giordano Spanier & Heckele Law Firm to determine your best plan of action. Call (520) 339-6804 or email at [email protected]