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Most people want to join their lives when they get married and never gave a second thought to what belonged to whom on your wedding day.  All the gifts you receive on your wedding day are intended for both of you and nobody thinks anything more about it.  Most likely, you probably didn’t consider whether you lived in a “community property state” or what an equal division of assets might look like. When a marriage ends in divorce or legal separation, however, it can be difficult to fairly divide your property once viewed and used as joint. Understanding the law on property division will help to ensure that you get the assets you are due in a divorce.

In Arizona, all property owned by a married person is considered either community, or marital, property (owned jointly by both spouses) or the sole and separate property of one spouse.

What Constitutes Community Property?

Community or marital property refers to all property acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage in which each spouse has an equal ownership interest in, regardless of who obtained the property, who uses the property, who paid for the property or what name a title is under. In addition to physical possessions like houses and cars, this may also include wages, earnings, bonuses, or retirement contributions made during the marriage as well as businesses started or owned by one spouse.   There are formulas in the Arizona case law that govern how to calculate the marital share of retirements, business values and other assets.  It is important to seek counsel from a family lawyer on these important divorce and separation issues.

What is Sole and Separate Property?

Separate property includes any property that the spouses acquired separately before the marriage, as well as any property that they acquired after a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed and served. If property bought during marriage was acquired or received by inheritance or gift, or if it was bought from the exchange of separate or pre-marital property, it may also be counted as separate property.

Determining what property is subject to the community property presumption and what property is each spouse’s separate property can be complicated and highly contested, so having an experienced divorce attorney can help.

McMurdie Law and Mediation is dedicated to helping you plan for and execute an equitable divorce. Call 480-777-5500 today to schedule a consultation about your unique situation.


Since 1995, McMurdie Law & Mediation, a Tempe, AZ Family Law practice, has provided expert conflict resolution, mediation, collaborative representation, full representation and limited scope representation for your family law cases.