"Do I get to keep that?" This and variations of this question are some of the most asked questions in divorces. Who gets the house, the bank account, the furniture and other property? The answer depends on the state where the divorce is proceeding. In most states, the judge decides who gets what on an equitable basis, meaning the judge determines what's fair to each party. A smaller number of states follow community property rules, meaning all property is broadly characterized as either separate or community. Arizona is a community property state.
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.