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Community Property and Annulment of Marriage in Arizona

Mon 4th Nov, 2019 Arizona Community Property Laws

Some people ask about the relationship between community property and the annulment of a marriage in Arizona.

To address that question, the Arizona Court of Appeals, in the case of Hammett v. Hammett, decided an annulment of marriage results in the creation of community property.

In that case, the husband and wife were married in Nevada in 2009. In November 2015, the Husband obtained a loan for $78,600. A house secured that loan. Coincidentally, that house was his sole separate and separate property.

Also, the couple bought a condominium, which they titled in both spouses’ names. That condominium was, therefore, community property.

Less than two weeks later, the husband filed for divorce.  During an initial court appearance in that divorce case, the husband claimed the wife was married to another man when they got married.  The husband tried to dismiss the divorce based on the mutual fraud of him and his wife.

The court dismissed the divorce case based upon the wife’s admission that she did not divorce her first husband. Wife claimed she presumed her first husband was dead. Since she did not get a divorce from her first husband, her subsequent marriage was not valid.

Husband then petitioned for an annulment of the marriage.  The parties settled many of the issues in their case. However, they did not settle on who was legally responsible for the loan the husband obtained. They also did not agree on how to divide the equity in the condominium.

As a result, the parties presented their case to the judge at trial. The trial judge granted the annulment of the marriage. As a result, the judge decided that the annulment voided all community property rights and obligations.

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Annulment of Marriage in Arizona Does Not Affect Community Property Rights

The court ordered the sale of the condominium. The court also decided the equity from the condo will be used to pay off the loan the husband had obtained.

Finally, the court decided the remaining money will be divided equally between the husband and the wife.

The wife filed an appeal of the trial judge’s decision to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

In her appeal, the Wife argued the court lacked the power to order them to pay off the Husband’s loan because the marriage was void. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the wife.

The court of appeals decided the annulment did not mean Arizona community property laws did not apply.

The trial court, therefore, should have used Arizona community property laws to divide their property and debt. In other words, the court divides property and debts the same way in an annulment of marriage as it does in a divorce.

The Arizona Court of Appeals talked about a prior decision from the Arizona Supreme Court. That other decision indicated community property laws do not apply unless a valid marriage exists.

However, since that Arizona Supreme Court case, the community property statutes in Arizona changed. As a result, the statutes now apply community property laws to both invalid marriages that are annulled and standard divorce cases.

If you have questions about community property and annulment of marriage in an Arizona divorce case, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona community property and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in community property disputes and family law cases.

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 or family law case around today.

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