In the event of a divorce, Arizona is a community property state, which means that all marital property is equally divided between the two spouses. However, residents of Maricopa County, Arizona, should remember that not all property acquired by a couple during marriage is considered community property. In fact, Article 25, Section 213 of Arizona statutes clearly defines what property is not subject to a split.
According to the statute, everything owned prior to marriage is a spouse’s separate property. In addition, any property that a married spouse obtains as gifts, inheritance, rents or an appreciation of existing separate property is considered separate property. If a spouse obtains property after filing for divorce, annulment or legal separation, that property is considered separate property. However, this rule is only valid if that particular petition for divorce, annulment or legal separation is approved by an Arizona court.
Similarly, if a spouse takes out a mortgage or any other deed of trust for a particular property after being served a notice for divorce, annulment or legal separation, that property is considered to be separate property. However, if the petition for divorce, annulment or legal separation is not approved by the court, the mortgage or deed of trust will be enforceable against the real property. If a spouse has an insurance policy or an irrevocable trust in which the other spouse is the beneficiary, the contributions to that insurance policy or the irrevocable trust are considered to be separate property.
While an understanding of what legally constitutes separate property in Arizona can help spouses during property division, exercising property rights and claiming disputed marital property is often, in reality, a difficult exercise for many couples, primarily because of limited understanding. Considering such factors, separating spouses may choose to get more information in order to clarify any doubts regarding community and separate property in Arizona.
Source: Arizona State Legislature, “25-213. Separate property,” Accessed on July 2, 2015