Phoenix, AZ – Property division is often the longest phase of a divorce. This is especially true for couples who have been married for a long time and have lots of shared property, assets, and investments. Each spouse should always have their own separate legal representation, as divorce cases involving property division can become complex depending on the interests owned by the couple and any disputes regarding ownership. 

State community property laws

All divorce cases in Arizona will follow a property division system called community property. Under this doctrine, all property obtained or purchased during the course of the marriage is considered marital property, regardless of how it was obtained or if only one spouse actually bought it. This bypasses the phase of property division where one spouse can make a claim for separate marital property that is allowed in many other states. Once the property is gathered, judges will generally try to get close to an event split between both spouses. 

What type of property is classified as community property?

Almost everything that the couple owns will be considered marital property. This includes real property and real estate, cars, livestock, bank accounts, and even debts from loans and credit cards. Also included are investments like a pension, retirement account, or stocks will be subject to these community property laws. Couples who owned businesses or intellectual property will have these assets divided during their divorce as well. 

Is it possible for a spouse to retain any separate property?

Family courts in Arizona will not attempt to divide a few distinct items. These include property that was clearly owned by one spouse before the marriage, items obtained by inheritance, and certain gifts. Once the divorce papers have been served on the defendant spouse, anything obtained afterward can be considered separate property. 

The process by the judge to formally divide any property

Once the judge assigned to the case has actually started to divide the couple’s property in court, there are procedural rules that must be followed. All property needs to be inventoried and identified. The next step is for the judge to classify each item as community or separate property. It is certainly possible that there will be disputes between the members of the couple at this point, and they can try to obtain titles or other paperwork to prove ownership before the marriage. Finally, the judge must come to a reasonable valuation of the property and award items to each spouse. 

Family attorneys in Phoenix

Schneider and Onofry is a family law practice that helps local clients with various issues in the Phoenix area. Anyone who needs legal advice can schedule a consultation with the firm to get answers to their specific questions. 

Firm contact info:

Schneider & Onofry, P.C.

365 E Coronado Road, Phoenix AZ 85004


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