Division of Assets and Debts
Arizona is a community property state, which means that all real and personal property acquired during the course of the marriage (except by inheritance, gift, bequest or devise) is the community (joint) property of both spouses. Arizona law states that upon dissolution of a marriage, all “community” property is to be divided equitably amongst the parties, though not necessarily in kind.
The same principle applies to debts incurred during the marriage by either or both spouses. Any and all debts or legal obligations incurred during the marriage are the obligation of both spouses.
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Your assets are comprised of your real property and personal property. Your personal property may include intangible property such as stocks, investment or regular bank accounts, and tangible personal property such as vehicles, jewelry or household goods.
Arizona law stated that during the divorce or legal separation process, community property, joint tenancy property or other property held in common will be divided equitably. An equitable division is meant to be fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties’ financial disposition. The court will not consider marital misconduct with regard to dividing property. However, damages resulting from criminal convictions by one spouse against the other or a child, or excessive spending, destruction or concealment of property, or fraud regarding community property may be taken into consideration. The separate property of each spouse will be affirmed to that spouse. A.R.S. §25-318
Community property is property acquired during the marriage by either or both spouses.
Separate property is the property acquired prior to marriage. Property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage also remains the separate property of that spouse.
What about real property owned in another state or country? If it is deemed community property, Arizona divorce law dictates that the community property principles will apply. In other words, Arizona courts will treat the property as if it is situated in Arizona.
Debts incurred during the marriage, by either or both spouses, are considered community debts. This may be a mortgage, credit cards, vehicle loans or other loan obligations. Commercial loans may bind both spouses as well if personally guaranteed by either spouse during the marriage. Community debts may be assigned to one or both spouses. A divorce or legal separation Decree which assigns responsibility for debts to either spouse is not binding on creditors to whom the debt is owed. The divorce or legal separation order should provide the parties with a legal remedy should the responsible party fail to pay the debt.
Each spouse has the right to obtain a copy of their spouse’s credit report. The divorcing parties may either provide a copy of their credit report as required by the disclosure and discovery rules during the litigation process or a court may issue an order to a credit agency upon the request of either party. Creditors are required to provide information to a spouse who is party to a divorce or legal separation action regarding the status and balance of a any debt owed by the requesting spouse.
Arizona law encourages spouses to create a proposed Debt Distribution Plan to ensure:
How creditors will be paid
Whether the parties have entered into any agreements as to responsibility for payment of community debts
Whether the parties have entered into any agreements with creditors as to sole responsibility by one party for the payment of the community debt