When you and your spouse have accrued significant assets during your marriage, property division may be one of your foremost concerns if you face divorce. Like many states, Arizona uses the equitable division standard for marital property.
Learn more about the factors that the court will consider for Arizona property division.
Spouses can agree on a fair division of assets and debts, or ask the judge to do so if they cannot negotiate this issue. The court will distinguish between separate and marital property, establish a fair value for the marital property, and divide property based on the standards of equitable division. This requires division of marital assets to be fair, but not necessarily equal.
In general, Arizona law considers anything acquired during the marriage to be marital property, sometimes called community property. Anything owned prior to the marriage or given to only one spouse during the marriage constitutes separate property, but the spouse claiming separate property must prove his or her sole ownership to the court. In addition, if you owned a home before marriage but your spouse contributed to its upkeep, the property can become a marital asset in the eyes of the court.
Once the court establishes a value for all marital property, using expert input when necessary, the spouses can negotiate fair property division. The judge can assign certain items to each partner; order the couple to sell property and split the proceeds; or let one spouse buy out the other for paying for a portion of real estate, a vehicle, or another valuable asset. Existing marital debt is also subject to equitable division.
If one partner wasted marital property on drug use, gambling, or another undesirable pursuit, the other partner can request a smaller portion of the marital debt or a larger portion of marital assets to make up the difference. In some cases, the judge will assign debt to the party who specifically spent the money.