Division of Marital Property and Debt

Because Arizona is a community property state, marital property and debts are divided equally at the time of the divorce. Any property acquired during a marriage (except gifts or inheritances) and any debt incurred during the marriage belongs equally to both spouses. Talk to a lawyer at the R. J. Peters & Associates law firm in Phoenix, Arizona, about your specific situation.

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It does not matter whether one spouse worked during the marriage and the other did not; both are entitled to the community property. Community property can include real property (your home, for example), personal property, money, stocks, bonds and a party’s interest in an employer-sponsored profit sharing or pension plan or individual retirement plan.

How is property and debt divided?

When either spouse files for a divorce, the community property must be equitably divided into separate property for each spouse. In addition, all community debt must be equitably divided. The term “equitable” means that each spouse is entitled to roughly half of the community property and debts.

It usually does not matter who paid for the property directly, whose credit it was purchased under, or who uses the property most of the time. If the parties cannot agree upon a division of the community property and community debts, then the court will divide the property and debts. At our law firm, we work closely with our clients to identify community property and debts and to determine an equitable distribution. Make sure you have an attorney who will fight for your rights and protect your interests.

What is NOT community property?

Property that was received as a gift or inheritance by one spouse is not generally community property. Property that either spouse bought or acquired or paid for before the marriage is generally not community property. If during the marriage, however, the spouse continued to make payments on the property with community funds, the separate property may be commingled and become part of the community property (i.e., a home owned by one party is deeded to both parties or where community funds are mixed in with separate funds).

What if a debt is incurred primarily for the benefit of one party?

All debt incurred during the marriage, no matter by whom, is generally considered to be the community debt of both parties. This is true even if the debt was incurred for purchase of an item that only one of the parties uses.

We take sides at the R. J. Peters & Associates law firm. This is an important concept that we do not take lightly. Settlement of the difficult issues which arise in family law matters is always an important effort, but not always possible. We focus on fighting for our clients whether in settlement efforts or in litigation. Our only business is family law. From our office located near downtown Phoenix, we represent clients in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona.

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