For Arizona couples who have done well financially, but who are about to go through divorce, some unpleasant news may await them. As one of just 10 states using the concept of community property, Arizona mandates that everything a couple owns at the time of their marriage ends is up for equal property division. Unless a valid legal agreement exists regarding what property was owned before marriage, all property holdings and financial assets can be divided.
A divorce can be an emotionally difficult time for an Arizona resident. Not only do people need to make complicated decisions regarding the future of their family, people must also split their property.
Many Arizonans are familiar with the comedic works of Chris Rock. The 49-year-old comedian, famous for his standup and recent movies, now finds himself in a situation that has no one laughing. Rock has filed for divorce from his wife of almost 19 years. The matter seems to be getting heated, as Rock has accused his wife of keeping the couple's three children away from him. Rock's wife disputes this claim, saying that Rock has had open access to the children. Though this matter may develop into a child custody issue, property division may also be a point of contention for the couple.
Resolving issues related to the equitable division of property and assets continues to be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process. Divorce involves the legal separation of two people whose lives were intertwined, so the property shared between them and accumulated during the marriage must be divided between the divorcing spouses. Essentially, Arizona law recognizes three primary types of property: non-marital property, separate property and community property. Sometimes these categories overlap but understanding the distinction is critical during property division.
Arizona, like many other states, is a no-fault divorce state. This means that, in most cases, even when the couple agrees that one spouse's extramarital affair was the reason for the divorce, the court does not need to consider the affair or apportion blame.
Arizona residents who use Bitcoin and are undergoing a divorce may be interested to learn about a budding issue relating to the electronic currency: divorce courts and lawyers are becoming increasingly aware of the ability of soon-to-be-spouses to hide assets using Bitcoins. During the divorce process, both spouses are asked to fully disclose their income and all financial assets. This information is used to help determine property division, as well as how much one party should pay in alimony or spousal support. Some would rather pay less, so they attempt to hide their assets.
Before Arizona residents can dissolve a marriage, they must first go through the process of property division. This process sorts out personal property from marital property, and then divides the marital property according to state law. To make sure this process is carried out fairly, the parties are required to list all their assets. Because divorces are handled by state courts, this information typically becomes part of the public record. For high-profile individuals, the process can feel something like an invasion of their privacy.
Understanding the divorce and property division processes can help achieve as smooth a divorce process as possible.
Many Phoenix, Arizona residents see their pets as family members. They hang pictures of their pets on the walls, share their bed with them, spend hundreds on their grooming and care. But when it comes to divorce law pets are no different than any other piece of personal property and must be accordingly divided. For many couples seeking a divorce the decision on what to do with a pet can become as contentious as child custody.
In our Phoenix Divorce Law Blog, we recently wrote about a Twitter investor that failed to disclose during her divorce the shares that she owned in the company. When Twitter went public, her ownership of the stock was discovered. Would this have occurred if the company had not gone public? We can’t answer that question, but we can share some helpful hints for uncovering assets that may not have been listed in a property disclosure.