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Arizona Community Property Laws - Frequently Asked Questions

Community Property

Arizona community property laws include a presumption that all property owned by either party is owned by the parties as community property, regardless of how title to that property is held. An Arizona Judge presumes, therefore, that all property owned by either spouse is community property. The burden of proving that an item of property is the separate property of a spouse rests upon the spouse making that separate property claim.

Community & Separate Property

Arizona community property laws generally provide that property acquired by either spouse during marriage is community property. Those same community property laws also provide that property acquired by either spouse prior to marriage or that was received as a gift or inheritance by a spouse during the marriage remains the separate property of that spouse.

Equitable Division

The very general rule is that a judge must equitably divide all the spouses’ community property and debts. The term equitable is generally presumed to be equal; meaning the court will usually equally divide the community debts and assets. However, there are circumstances when a judge may unequally divide community assets because the judge determines it is equitable (i.e., fair) to do so, such as when one spouse has wasted community assets through gambling or an addiction to drugs.

Community Property Presumption

Arizona community property laws include a presumption that all property owned by either party is owned by the parties as community property, regardless of how title to that property is held. An Arizona Judge presumes, therefore, that all property owned by either spouse is community property. The burden of proving that an item of property is the separate property of a spouse rests upon the spouse making that separate property claim.

Business Interests

Business interests may be treated as community property in Arizona. The same Arizona community property presumptions discussed above apply to a business. Specifically, a business owned or operated during a marriage may be classified, partly or wholly, as community property. The appraisal process necessary to determine the value of a business is complicated but, generally, is based upon the determination of the income earned from the business, the expected future growth in those earnings, and an evaluation of the assets and debts owned by the business.

Retirement Accounts

Retirement assets are treated in the same manner as all other community property in Arizona and are, therefore, divided between the spouses in a divorce. The court will apportion the community property interest in retirement accounts between the spouses and will award each spouse his or her separate property portion of those retirement accounts.

The actual division of the accounts occurs by rolling out an amount into a separate account for the spouse receiving an interest in the retirement account, offsetting that spouse’s interest in the other spouse’s retirement account by awarding him or her more of some other asset, or by preparation of a special Order referred to as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is an Order that directs the plan administrator as to how to divide the community property portion of the retirement account.


Contact Our Arizona Divorce Attorneys

Call us at (480) 305-8300 to schedule a consultation with one of our Scottsdale community property lawyers regarding Arizona community property laws or any other Arizona family law matter.

Family Practice Areas
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Hildebrand Law, PC
4900 N. Scottsdale Rd. Suite 2800 Scottsdale, AZ 85251.
Phone: (480) 305-8300
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