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Division of Retirement Accounts in an Arizona Divorce
Many people going through a divorce in Arizona ask how are retirement accounts divided in an Arizona Divorce.
Let’s start our discussion with the Arizona Supreme Court case of Van Loan v. Van Loan.
The court concluded that retirement assets, including pensions, are treated in the same manner as all other community property in Arizona and are, therefore, divided between 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.
How to Calculate the Community Property Interest in a Retirement Account During a Divorce in Arizona
There are several ways to determine the community and separate property interests in a retirement account.
The approach used depends on the type of retirement account to be divided.
Retirement accounts are either a “defined contribution” plan or a “defined benefit” plan.
A defined contribution retirement plan is a plan where you invest money that grows over time, like an IRA or 401(k).
You are only entitled to the value of the account.
A defined benefit plan is a plan where you may or may not invest money into the plan and you will receive a monthly amount at a certain age, like a pension.
You may or may not be entitled to the value of the account in lieu of or in addition to monthly pension payments; depending upon the plan.
The Arizona Supreme Court in the Johnson v. Johnson case presented an excellent analysis of how retirement accounts are divided in a divorce in Arizona.
Specifically, the Arizona Supreme Court in the Johnson v. Johnson case established the ways the court may determine the community and separate property interests in these types of retirement accounts.
The actual division of the accounts occurs by rolling out an amount into a separate retirement account for the spouse receiving an interest in the retirement account.
Alternatively, you can offset that spouse’s interest in the other spouse’s retirement account by awarding him or her more of other community property.
If you are splitting a retirement account, you may need to prepare 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.
Division of Military Retirement in Arizona
Military Retirement Pay may also be divided in an Arizona divorce. However, special circumstances exist in certain cases of military benefits, such as Combat-Related Special Compensation payments and other forms of military disability payments that may not be divided in an Arizona divorce.
However, the Arizona Supreme Court in the unpublished Merrill v. Merrill case held that a trial court might order a spouse to compensate his or her spouse if the court previously awarded the division of Military Retirement Pay that is subsequently turned into Combat-Related Special Compensation.
Since Merrill is an unpublished case, you are not permitted in almost all cases to cite the case as authority to the court.
Using Community to Purchase Years of Service Credit
The Arizona Court of Appeals in the published case of Stock vs. Stock had to determine if using community funds to purchase credit for time the husband served in the military before the parties were married transformed those years of service from the husband’s sole and separate property into community property.
The trial court concluded that the use of community funds to purchase retirement credit for time the husband served in the military before the parties were married transformed those years of credit into community property to be divided in in the divorce. The Court of Appeals disagreed.
The Arizona Court of Appeals held that Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-213 provides that property acquired during marriage is community property while property owned or acquired before marriage is separate property.
Property acquires its status as community property or separate property by the marital status of the person acquiring the right to title to the asset, such that property rights acquired by a single person are that person’s separate property and property acquired by a married person is community property.
Citing the prior court of appeals’ case in the matter of Potthoff vs. Potthoff, the court added the time of acquisition of the property means the time a person obtains the “right to title” to the asset and not when the legal title is subsequently obtained.
For example, if a person bought a home the day before he or she got married, but did not close on the sale of that home until the day after he or she was married, that asset would be that spouse’s separate property.
The community does not turn that separate asset into community property simply by spending community property on that separate property asset, including a retirement account or military pension.
As a result, the spouses in the Stock case did not convert the husband’s pre-marriage years of service in the military into community property simply by using community funds to buy back pre-marriage years of military service.
However, the Court of Appeals also found that the community was entitled to a community lien against the separate portion of the husband’s military retirement pension for the amount of community funds spent purchasing the husband’s sole and separate portion of his pension, plus interest.
If you need information about how a retirement account is divided in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona community property 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 community property 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
- ABANDONMENT OF MARRIAGE AND COMMUNITY PROPERTY RIGHTS 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
- 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