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Divorce: Community property law in Arizona

In today's world, the man is not always the spouse who makes the largest income. This can make things a bit complicated when a couple goes through a divorce. Therefore, it is important for men to understand how community property laws affect them, whether they are the sole breadwinner or their spouse has the bigger paycheck.

Arizona community property law

Arizona law states that any property acquired by a spouse during the duration of the marriage is considered community property. However, if the property was a gift, an inheritance or part of a legal settlement, than that property is generally considered separate, belonging solely to that spouse.

In addition to the family home and bank account contents, marital property also can include the following:

  • Retirement plans.
  • Professional licenses.
  • Bonuses.
  • Investments.
  • Tax refunds.
  • Country club memberships.

Along with assets, debt that was accumulated after the wedding date is also considered part of the marital property and will need to be compared with the assets in order for the division of property to be equal.

Qualified domestic relations order

Many companies encourage their employees to set up a 401(k) or an IRA to save money for retirement. When couples divorce, those retirement plans can be split but it is important to make sure that the division follows state and federal law. Fox Business states that one of the best ways to protect oneself from fees and taxes is to get a qualified domestic relations order.

This is essentially a court document that enables a spouse to split the retirement fund with the ex-spouse. However, when receiving spouses get the order, they should make sure that it contains the amount or percentage that they are entitled to. This ensures that they are paid that amount, regardless of what happens to the account itself. Furthermore, spouses should try to make sure that the division is taken care of as soon as possible in order to prevent legal delays.

Refinancing property

In some cases, spouses want to keep the family home or a vacation property and this means that they will need to go through the process of refinancing the mortgage under their own name. This can be a lengthy process and add undue financial burden on the other spouse. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the spouse that wants to keep the property should meet with a bank first to determine whether they have the means to qualify for refinancing.

For spouses who do not want to keep the home, it is a good idea for them to stipulate a timeframe in which the other spouse must acquire financing of his or her own. The terms should also make it clear that if refinancing is not complete, then the home will be put up and sold to prevent any financial difficulties for the other spouse. Spouses who have questions about the proper way to separate marital property should meet with an experienced attorney for counsel.