Is all property owned by either spouse community property in Arizona?
No. Generally, all property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, was acquired by either spouse after service of the divorce petition, was acquired by inheritance, or was acquired through a gift is the separate property of the spouse so acquiring the property.
The increase or decrease in value of that separate property is also the separate property of the spouse who acquired the property. Despite these rather simple sounding rules, there are typically very complicated issues concerning community liens against a spouse’s separate property, transmutation of separate property into community property, commingling of separate property with community property, and tracing of separate property which were commingled with community funds.
Also, spouses are free to characterize what would have otherwise been community property into one spouse’s sole and separate property. One such situation occurs when a spouse signs a Disclaimer Deed to a home. The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Bell-Kilbourne v. Bell-Kilbourne case discussed the impact of Disclaimer Deeds on what may have otherwise been community property. In another Court of Appeals decision in the case of In re: Estate of Sims, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that the filing of a joint homestead exemption did not change the property from a spouse’s sole and separate property into community property.
In the related case of In re the Matter of Flowers the Arizona Court of Appeals discussed an equitable, yet unequal, division of community property involving a spouse who changed the Deed to his sole and separate home into a community asset.
This particular issue has many rules and exceptions and you should consult with a qualified divorce attorney before making any decisions regarding settlement of community property issues if a Quit Claim or Disclaimer deed has been signed by either spouse.
All of these issues should be discussed with an experienced family law attorney before any decisions can be made regarding your rights to property owned by either spouse; regardless how or when ownership of that property occurred.
Contact Our Scottsdale Arizona Community Property Attorneys
Call us at (480) 305-8300 to schedule a consultation with one of our Scottsdale Arizona Community Property Attorneys regarding Arizona community property laws or any other Arizona family law matter.