For Phoenix couples who choose to end their marriage, one of the most difficult and contested aspects of the divorce is often dividing the property. In many instances, the couple is simply trying to keep what they believe is rightfully theirs. In others, it could be an attempt to be difficult and take some form of revenge on the other spouse. Still, others have valuable assets that both spouses would like to keep. Regardless of the reasons, it is important to understand the law and the difference between marital property and non-marital property.
Property obtained during the marriage will be community property meaning that it belongs to both parties, except in certain circumstances. It will not be community property if it was acquired as a gift, by descent or as part of something the person devised. It will also not be community property, if it had been acquired after a petition for dissolution, legal separation or annulment, and it results in the completion of a dissolution, legal separation or annulment.
The dissolution, legal separation or annulment does not change the status of community property that preexisted; change the status of community property that was used to acquire new forms of property or the new property as community property; or change the rights and duties of the spouses to manage community property.
It is a mistake on the part of a couple to believe that they have the right to all property that was acquired during the marriage or that they do not have certain rights for other properties. The specific properties must be examined and the circumstances surrounding how they were acquired are important. While it is preferable for the divorcing couple to come to an agreement on property division, that is not always feasible. Speaking to an attorney can provide guidance and advice in a case in which marital property and non-marital property are not fully understood or there are items in dispute.
Source: State.Az.US, "25-211. Property acquired during marriage as community property; exceptions; effect of service of a petition," accessed on March 15, 2016