The end of a marriage not only marks the end of a significant chapter in one’s life but also the separation of shared assets and property. These assets can be substantial after years of life together. Arizona is a community property state. The division of assets and property can add complexity to an already emotional process. 

While community property is a fundamental concept, it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. There are exclusions to community property that can significantly impact the distribution of assets. At The Peterson Law Firm, we recognize the intricacies of property division in Arizona divorce cases. We are here to offer guidance as experienced family law attorneys.

What is a Community Property State?

Arizona adheres to the principle of community property in divorce proceedings. This means that it does not necessarily matter who bought what. Marital property and assets acquired during the marriage are typically considered community property. These are subject to equal distribution between the spouses upon divorce.

Nine states across the United States adhere to community property principles, and Arizona is one of them. The other states embracing this concept are California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Alaska. The purpose behind these principles is to streamline the often prolonged legal disputes about property allocation between spouses by granting the state authority over property division matters.

What is Considered Community Property in Arizona?

Community property generally encompasses assets and property acquired during the marriage. Community property can include income, real estate like the marital home and personal property. It can also include investments and retirement accounts. This includes earnings from employment, business income, and any assets acquired with marital funds during the marriage.

Assets Excluded from the Arizona Property Division Process

While community property is the foundation of property division in Arizona, certain assets and property are excluded from this process:

  • Gifts and Inheritance: Property received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance is typically considered separate property and is not subject to division, provided it’s maintained separately from community property.
  • Property Acquired Prior to the Marriage: Assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage are generally considered separate property and are not subject to division.
  • Property Covered by a Valid Prenuptial Agreement: If a prenuptial agreement is in place, it can outline specific property division terms that override community property laws.
  • Money from a Personal Injury Lawsuit: Compensation received from a personal injury lawsuit, if awarded to one spouse individually, may be treated as separate property and is not subject to division.

Quasi-Community Property

Arizona also recognizes “quasi-community property,” which refers to property acquired by either spouse in another state during the marriage. Even if the property is located in a state without community property laws, it is treated similarly to community property and is subject to division upon divorce.

How Separate Property Can Turn into Community Property

Separate property can sometimes transform into community property. This can happen if it becomes co-mingled with community assets or used for the benefit of the community. For instance, if a married couple deposits separate funds into a joint bank account, they may lose their separate status. This can also apply if separate funds are used to pay joint expenses

Other Issues Related to Separate Property in an Arizona Divorce

There are other considerations related to separate property in Arizona divorces:

  • Community Lien: If one spouse’s separate property increases in value during the marriage due to the efforts or financial contributions of the other spouse, the community may have a claim to a portion of that increase.
  • Gifts Between Spouses: Gifts exchanged between spouses during the marriage are generally considered community property, unless otherwise specified.
  • Transmutation: Property that was initially separate can be purposefully transmuted into community property through written agreement between the spouses.

Navigating the intricacies of community property exclusions and property division in an Arizona divorce can be daunting. At The Peterson Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing guidance and support during this challenging time. Our divorce attorneys and family law professionals can break down the process and give you the options you need.

Our experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights. We’re here to help you protect your assets and ensure a fair and equitable division of property. Contact us today for compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation. Together, we can navigate the complexities of property division and work toward securing your financial future.


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