When couples divorce in Arizona, they can either come to an agreement on their own as to how their property will be divided or the court will make the determination. Property is designated as either marital, or community, property or separate property. Since Arizona is a community property state, the court will divide all marital property equally between the spouses.
Community property includes all of the property and assets that were acquired during the marriage, regardless of whether one spouse acquired the asset. The amounts accrued in retirement accounts and pensions during the marriage are also included as marital property. There are certain exclusions, however, such as an inheritance received by only one spouse, personal injury settlement awards and gifts given to one spouse but not the other.
Property that is considered to be the separate property of one spouse will not be divided. Separate property includes all of the property the spouse owned prior to the marriage, although increases in value to the property because of the other spouse may in some cases be treated as community property. Separate property also includes any property specifically designated as the separate property of one spouse in a valid prenuptial agreement signed by both parties.
Some people have very complicated estates with significant holdings, making them even more difficult to divide. Property division in those cases can be even more difficult as accounts may need to be located, property may need valuations or appraisals and people may have attempted to hide assets. Those who have complicated holdings may need to seek the help of a family law attorney who may be able to help get appraisals completed and provide assistance with negotiating a settlement regarding the property with the other spouse.
Source: FindLaw, “Arizona Marital Property Laws“, December 04, 2014