What is considered community property in a marriage?
Written by Jennifer Moshier

What is considered community property in a marriage?

The legal process for a divorce is a little different in each state. For example, some states have permanent alimony while others are fault-based. An issue that every divorcing couple faces is how to divide assets. Some states, including Arizona, are community property states. In these jurisdictions, it is essential for couples to know who owns what.

Arizona: A Community Property State

There are nine community property states, including Arizona. Community property includes items acquired during the marriage that are presumed to be jointly owned by both spouses. The may be income, real or personal property and debts from during the marriage. In general, the following are examples of community property:

  • Appliances
  • Art
  • Bank Accounts
  • Businesses
  • Furniture
  • Houses
  • Investments
  • Jewelry
  • Property
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Rewards Points
  • Vehicles

It’s important to note, if a spouse brought an asset into the marriage and joint funds are then used to pay toward or improve that asset, the non-owning spouse may have a claim for some portion of the value of that asset. The nuances can be complicated, and talking to an attorney is the best option for determining whether assets that were originally separate may now have some type of community claim.

There are many unique situations when considering community property. Talking with legal professionals can help clear up any misunderstandings and confusion. If you aren’t sure, ask.

What is Separate Property?

Anything someone owns before the marriage may be considered separate property. This can include income, property, debt or other assets. If one spouse receives a gift during the marriage, it may be considered separate property, as long as it isn’t placed in a jointly held account, or under both names.

Another way to determine separate property is through a prenuptial agreement or estate planning. While both community property and separate property are broad concepts, one of the ways to approach its division during a divorce is using the collaborative divorce process. Professionals can help couples work together to focus on problem-solving and outcomes.

Collaborative Divorce Can Help

Emotions often run high during a divorce. The more you argue and fight, the more it can cost both parties. Letting a judge make the ruling may disappoint both spouses. If you are amicable enough to use the collaborative divorce process, it can help save you time, energy and money.

Identifying and dividing community property can be a challenging task. Businesses, retirement accounts and significant debt can make it more exhausting. If you can work together, including your collaborative legal professionals, you may have a better chance of walking away feeling good about the division of your community property.

Using professionals is helpful in understanding the specific laws in your state. It also allows you to be transparent about your particular situation. State requirements can complicate dividing assets during a divorce. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Contact a professional at Best Legal Choices today.