Community and Separate Property in Phoenix
One of the biggest issues in divorce in any state is property division. Even when the couple is amenable to doing the fair thing by their spouses, it can get sticky when it comes down to details; this is much more true when the divorce is contentious. For a couple living in Phoenix, they are subject to the community property laws of Arizona.
While the laws does not require a couple to divide property and debts straight down the middle, it does have to be as close to equal as fair to both parties. If the couple cannot come up with a mutual agreement on how it will be, they can ask the court to do it for them. When there is a significant amount of property and debts, it is important for both spouses to consult with a lawyer before finalizing an agreement or going before the court to make sure that their rights are protected.
It is important to note that Arizona courts will consider all property to be community property by default. In order to keep what you rightfully own, you will have to produce documents proving that the property in question is separate, i.e. inherited or gifted. This can get complicated when separate property becomes commingled with community property, such as depositing the proceeds of the sale of a separate property i.e. ancestral home into the marital account. A mortgaged house that was originally owned by one spouse can become partially community property if both spouses contribute to mortgage payments.
Isolating what is community property from separate property can get quite complicated, especially when there is a business involved, or when one spouse has contributed more to the acquisition of the marital assets. If the spouses disagree on what is separate property, the judge will have to determine it based on the evidence brought before the court. This is where a divorce lawyer can be invaluable as they understand how the law applies in each instance.