Table of Contents
Generally, the abandonment of a marriage or leaving the marital home does not impact community property rights in Arizona. However, there is one situation when abandonment of a marriage can impact community property rights.
When the Abandonment of a Marriage Does Effect Community Property Rights in Arizona
Some people ask about the impact of the abandonment of marriage and community property rights in Arizona. In the case of In re Marriage of Fong 589 P.2d 1330 (1978) the Court of Appeals reviewed a particularly unusual divorce case. It relied on very usual authorities to come to its decision.
Mrs. Chow and Mr. Fong married in China in 1923. Mrs. Chow stayed in China with her husband’s family while he worked in different places around the world.
The two had one son. Over the years, Mr. Fong had bought 14 pieces of property in the name of himself and his wife.
He tried to bring his wife and son to Arizona when he moved there in 1939. However, he was not able to because of the war.
In time he found his son and brought him to Arizona.
Mr. Fong heard that his wife was dead in 1946. In 1951, Alfonso opened probate for Mrs. Chow. He and his son each received one-half interests in the property in his wife’s name.
Believing his wife to be dead, he remarried, had six more children and built a new life. He also made a fortune through his hard work and investments. However, Mrs. Chow was not dead. The husband’s son knew this but did not tell his father.
The wife also knew that Mr. Fong thought she was dead but said nothing. In 1972, Mrs. Chow came to the United States. She then commenced a divorce action against Mr. Fong. The trial court awarded the wife a divorce plus $800 a month in alimony.
It awarded 100% of the community property to the husband, citing estoppel. From this, both Mrs. Chow and Mr. Fong filed an appeal.
The claim of Estoppel on Community Property Rights Due Abandonment of Marriage
In Arizona, a claim of estoppel must be specifically pleaded. The wife argues that Mr. Fong did not plead estoppel. The Court of Appeals agreed that it had not been alleged in the pleading. Therefore, the trial court could not base its decision on estoppel.
The husband claimed that even if it can’t rely on estoppel, this Court should affirm the ruling below. He argued that, given the unusual fact situation presented here, the trial court was justified in awarding him all property.
The wife did not contribute at all to acquiring the community property. She claimed that to divide the property so inequitably deprives her of her constitutional “vested” rights in that property. This phrase comes from the case of Hatch v. Hatch, 547 P.2d 1044.
In Hatch, the Arizona Supreme Court referred to a spouse’s community property interest as a “vested right.” The Court said that this “vested” language from Hatch must be viewed in the context of the case. Otherwise, it said, the language would mandate that a division of community property would have to be absolutely equal. That would be contrary to the community property laws of Arizona.
Many cases hold that a division of community property must be equitable but not exactly equal. The Court read Hatch as ruling that generally, a court should divide community property substantially equally. However, it recognized that valid reasons can exist for dividing it in another way.
The Court then looked to see whether valid reasons existed in this case.
Abandonment of Marriage Voids a Marriage in Fact in Arizona
The Court said that a review of Spanish community property law would be helpful. It quoted from a treatise on this law.
“It was a basic principle of the Spanish community property system that for acquisitions and earnings of the spouses to constitute a community, the spouses must have been cohabiting as husband and wife at the time of the acquisitions or earnings.”
It quoted further language saying that, under this rule, the courts didn’t require the couple actually live together.
The questions, rather, were whether the “marriage in fact” survived, whether the “union of wills” remained.
The Court of Appeals used this unusual reference as authority for its ruling. It found that Mr. Fong and Mrs. Chow no longer had a “marriage in fact” after he believed she was dead. The Court said that their “union of wills” broke down about the time of husband’s marriage to his second wife.
Abandonment of Marriage Affects Community Property Rights in Arizona
It also said that property after that could be awarded 100% to husband, but property acquired before should be equitably divided.
The Court told the lower court to review the spousal maintenance award in light of the new division of community property.
The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the trial court. It sent the case back to the trial court with directions to proceed in accordance with this opinion. The Arizona Court of Appeals had to distinguish this case from its prior ruling in the case of Blaine v. Blaine.
If you need information about the effect of abandoning a marriage on community property rights in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona divorce case around today.
Other Articles About Community Property in Arizona
- ARIZONA COMMUNITY PROPERTY LAWS
- CALCULATING A COMMUNITY LIEN ON AN APPRECIATING ASSET IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- VALUING GOODWILL OF A LAWFIRM IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- COMMUNITY PROPERTY AND ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE IN ARIZONA
- SOLE AND SEPARATE FUNDS USED TO BUY A HOUSE IN ARIZONA
- DIVISION OF MILITARY RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY PAYMENTS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- SEPARATE PROPERTY CONTRIBUTIONS WHEN DIVIDING COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- PROPERTY HELD AS JOINT TENANTS WITH RIGHTS OF SURVIVORSHIP IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DIVIDING RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- ARIZONA DIVORCE DEBT
- EFFECT OF PLACING COMMUNITY PROPERTY INTO A FAMILY TRUST IN ARIZONA
- COMMUNITY PROPERTY LOTTERY WINNINGS IN ARIZONA
- IS SEPARATE PROPERTY LIABLE FOR COMMUNITY DEBT IN ARIZONA
- CREDITOR COLLECTING A SEPARATE DEBT WITH COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- TITLE AFFECTS COMMUNITY PROPERTY RIGHTS IN ARIZONA
- COMMINGLING SEPARATE PROPERTY WITH COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- ARE MILITARY RETIREMENT PAYMENTS COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- EFFORT DOES NOT ENTITLE A SPOUSE TO MORE COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- RESULT OF COMMINGLING COMMUNITY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- INCREASED VALUE OF A BUSINESS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- GIFT OF SEPARATE PROPERTY THROUGH A JOINT TENANCY DEED IN ARIZONA
- ARE PROFITS FROM A SEPARATE BUSINESS COMMUNITY OR SEPARATE PROPERTY
- TRACING SEPARATE PROPERTY COMMINGLED WITH COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- INTENTION CONTROLS TRANSMUTATION OF SEPARATE INTO COMMUNITY PROPERTY
- RECORDING A HOME IS INSUFFICIENT TO CHANGE SEPARATE PROPERTY INTO COMMUNITY PROPERTY
- COMMUNITY PROPERTY INTEREST IN A BUSINESS OWNED PRIOR TO MARRIAGE
- WHAT IS SEPARATE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- VALUATION AND DISTRIBUTION OPTIONS FOR A PENSION IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- UNFAIR SEPARATION AGREEMENT IN ARIZONA
- UNEQUAL DIVISION OF PROPERTY IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- SEPARATE PROPERTY USED PURCHSE A HOME DURING MARRIAGE IN ARIZONA
- REIMBURSEMENT FOR PAYING SEPARATE DEBTS OF A SPOUSE IN ARIZONA
- REFUSAL TO SELL A HOUSE AFTER A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- PENSIONS AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- MILITARY RETIREMENT PAY AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- IS SEPARATE PROPERTY DIVIDED DIFFERENTLY THAN COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- IS ARIZONA A 50-50 STATE IN A DIVORCE
- IS ALL PROPERTY OWNED BY EITHER SPOUSE COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- INTEREST ON A LOAN BETWEEN SPOUSES IN ARIZONA
- IMPACT OF IMPROVEMENTS TO SEPARATE PROPERTY IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- HOW TO ENFORCE DIVISION OF PROPERTY AND DEBT IN ARIZONA
- HOW TO DIVIDE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA WHEN A SPOUSE IS HIDING ASSETS
- HOW STOCK OPTIONS ARE DIVIDED IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- HOW IS COMMUNITY PROPERTY DIVIDED IN ARIZONA
- HOW ARE RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS DIVIDED IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- FILING A LIS PENDENS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- FAIR COMPENSATION DEFENSE IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- ENFORCE A PROPERTY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN ARIZONA
- DO RULES REGARDING PROPERTY APPLY TO DEBTS IN ARIZONA
- DIVISION OF DEBT IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DIVIDING PROPERTY NOT INCLUDED IN A DIVORCE DECREE IN ARIZONA
- DIFFERENCE IN COMMUNITY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- DETERMINING COMMUNITY VERSUS SOLE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- CREATION OF A COMMUNITY LIEN ON SOLE AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- COMMUNITY PROPERTY LAWS ABOUT A SPOUSE’S PERSONAL GUARANTEE IN ARIZONA
- CHOOSING A VALUATION DATE WHEN DIVIDING ASSETS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- CAN A SPOUSE BE HELD LIABLE FOR CREDIT CARD DEBT IN ARIZONA
- CALCULATING A COMMUNITY LIEN ON A DEPRECIATING ASSET IN ARIZONA
- EFFECT OF A DISCLAIMER DEED OR QUIT CLAIM DEED IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- BANK ACCOUNTS AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- DIVIDING PAID TIME OFF IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- EQUALIZATION PAYMENTS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- OMITTED ASSETS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE DECREE
- CRSC PAY AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- JUDGMENT FOR SEPARATE PROPERTY STOLEN DURING MARRIAGE
- JUDGE IGNORES A BUSINESS APPRAISAL IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- REIMBURSEMENT OF SEPARATE PROPERTY IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- SEPARATE PROPERTY INCREASES IN VALUE DURING MARRIAGE IN ARIZONA
- PERSONAL INJURY AWARDS AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- VALUING A BUSINESS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA WITHOUT FINANCIAL DOCUMENTATION
- RETIREMENT INCREASE AFTER DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- FAILURE TO DISCLOSE FINANCIAL INFORMATION IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A POWER OF ATTORNEY TO DISPOSE OF SPOUSE’S SEPARATE PROPERTY
- COHABITATION AGREEMENTS IN ARIZONA
- FINANCIAL AGREEMENTS BETWEEN UNMARRIED COUPLES IN ARIZONA
- COMMUNITY PROPERTY LIABILITY EXISTS EVEN AFTER PROBATE ENDS
- WHEN A CREDITOR MAY TAKE SOLE AND SEPARATE ASSETS OF A SPOUSE
- LIABILITY FOR A SPOUSE’S NEGLIGENCE IN ARIZONA
- VALUATION OF STOCK HOLDINGS AND DEBT IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- LOANS BEFORE MARRIAGE IN ARIZONA
- CREDITOR LIEN ON JOINT TENANCY PROPERTY IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- INCREASE IN VALUE OF A SEPARATE PROPERTY BUSINESS STOCK IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- STATEMENTS REGARDING PROPERTY ARE BINDING IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DEBTS NOT INCLUDED IN A DIVORCE DECREE IN ARIZONA
- FRAUDULENT QUIT CLAIM DEED IS INEFFECTIVE IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DISPOSITION OF COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
- DIVIDING BUSINESS PROFITS DURING A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- MINORITY DISCOUNT IN A BUSINESS VALUATION IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- HOW A BUSINESS IS DIVIDED IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- DIVISION OF CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT SYSTEM BENEFITS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- DISABILITY PAY AND COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- VALUATION OF A PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- JOINING A THIRD PARTY IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- CONTESTING A RULE 69 AGREEMENT WITHOUT A TRIAL IN ARIZONA
- DEFENSE TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR PAYMENT OF COMMUNITY BILLS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- SURVIVOR ELECTION AND MILITARY RETIREMENT IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DEFERRED MILITARY RETIREMENT IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DIVISION OF DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PLANS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- CLAIMS OF WASTE IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DIVIDING ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- THE IMPORTANCE OF TITLE SEARCHES ON THE MARITAL HOME DURING A DIVORCE
- FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- MINORITY DISCOUNT BUSINESS APPRAISAL IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- FINDING A REALTOR DURING A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- MILITARY BENEFITS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- WHAT TO DO IF YOUR SPOUSE IS HIDING ASSETS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- TYPES OF BUSINESS APPRAISALS IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS AFTER DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS, QDROs, AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- DIVORCE AND REFINANCING A MORTGAGE IN ARIZONA
- PROVING PROPERTY IS SOLE AND SEPARATE IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- 7 REASONS YOU MAY HAVE TO SHARE YOUR INJURY SETTLEMENT IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- CLAIM OF A SPOUSE’S PERSONAL INJURY AWARD IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- PERSONAL INJURY AWARDS AND DIVORCE SETTLEMENTS IN ARIZONA
- PROTECTING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY AWARD IN AN ARIZONA DIVORCE
- DIVORCE AND PERSONAL INJURY AWARDS IN ARIZONA
- ENFORCING A SURVIVOR BENEFIT ELECTION IN A PENSION IN ARIZONA
- MURDERER SPOUSE AND COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- DAMAGES CAUSED BY A COMMUNITY PROPERTY VEHICLE IN ARIZONA
- COMPENSATION FOR WASTE OF COMMUNITY ASSETS IN ARIZONA
- USING SEPARATE FUNDS TO BUY JOINT PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- TRANSMUTING SEPARATE PROPERTY INTO COMMUNITY PROPERTY BY COMMINGLING
- LIABILITY FOR DEBT GUARANTEED BY THE OTHER SPOUSE IN ARIZONA
- USING COMMUNITY FUNDS TO PAY A MORTGAGE ON A SPOUSE’S SOLE AND SEPARATE HOUSE
- DISCLAIMER DEED AND DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- COMMUNITY LIEN ON A SOLE AND SEPARATE BUSINESS IN A DIVORCE IN ARIZONA
- YOU’RE GETTING A DIVORCE, ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT THE HOUSE?
- CHANGING JOINT PROPERTY TO COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- SEGREGATING SEPARATE PROPERTY FROM COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN ARIZONA
- ARIZONA COMMUNITY PROPERTY LAWS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS