It is a common misconception that when a couple divorces, each spouse must receive exactly half of the couple’s money and property.
Arizona is one of just a few states that follow a “community property” law, meaning that the state considers most assets acquired during marriage to be marital property. However, this does not guarantee a 50/50 division of all assets.
Community or marital property in Arizona consists of property the couple acquires during the marriage. The two exceptions are property acquired as a gift or inheritance by one spouse and property acquired by one spouse after filing for divorce.
The Arizona statute regarding property division specifies that the division of community property should be equitable, but not necessarily equal. While some divorces will result in a 50/50 division, there are exceptions.
For example, the court may reimburse one spouse for funds spent on the other’s separate property. If one spouse inherits a house and the couple uses marital funds to pay for renovations, the other spouse may receive a larger share to cover his or her portion of the community assets spent on the house.
Another potential reason for unequal distribution is the existence of a prenuptial agreement. Prior to marriage, both spouses may sign an agreement to keep certain assets separate. For the agreement to be valid, both spouses must disclose their assets and financial obligations and enter into the agreement willingly.
Many Arizona divorces result in a division of property that is equal or nearly equal. Some circumstances, however, call for an unequal distribution of property in order to be fair to both spouses.