Arizona is one of only nine community property states. As such, Arizona law holds that, generally, all assets you and your spouse acquire during your marriage become marital property that belongs equally to both of you, regardless of which of you actually acquired or paid for it. Should a divorce occur, you and your spouse must divide this marital property 50/50 between you. The same holds true for all debts taken on by either of you during your marriage.
Keep in mind that this 50/50 community property rule applies to the value of your marital assets, not the assets themselves. For example, if one spouse receives the marital home in the divorce, the other spouse must receive property of equal value, and so on and so forth until all of your marital assets (and debts) have been equally divided between the two of you.
Each of you also owns separate property, defined as any real or personal property either of you owned prior to the marriage, plus any rents, profits or increase in value such property produced during the marriage. This separate property belongs solely to the spouse who owns it and does not form part of the marital property that you must divide 50/50.
FindLaw explains that Arizona law also exempts the following types of property that either of you received during the marriage from the 50/50 rule:
- Property either of you acquires after your spouse receives service of the petition for divorce, annulment or legal separation, assuming a judge ultimately turns said petition into a final decree
- Any rent, interest, value increase, etc. such property produces
Unfortunately, some property ix mixed, that is, partially separate and partially marital. A common example consists of a retirement account started by one spouse prior to the marriage, but contributed to during the marriage. Mixed property poses a problem and the necessity for complex calculations to determine which portion of the asset’s current value is which.