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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Nov 4, 2016

When a relationship has run its course and the couple involved decide that they would be happier apart, it’s time to start dividing things up. Parenting plans will have to be formed to divvy up a child’s time with each spouse, families and friends will likely be split, and physical possessions will have to be divided.

How exactly is that done, though? Well, luckily, Arizona has some of the most flexible property division laws out there.

Arizona Property Division – Fair, and Generally Equal

In some states, property will have to be divided exactly evenly, and will be done at the family court’s discretion. Values will be totted up, and a line will be drawn smack-dap in the center, with no flexibility whatsoever. Arizona, however, lets the couple themselves decide how they want the property split up, more or less.

It still has to be mostly even (to prevent one spouse from bullying the other one into not taking anything), but it is still up to the couple for the most part.

Here are some of the considerations the family court takes into account when ruling on property division:

  • Is the property marital or separate? If you have an expensive grand piano that you have had since long before you were married, then that is separate property, and not even factored into the property division. If, however, you and your spouse purchased the piano as an anniversary present to yourselves, then it is marital property, and counted in the division.
  • What is the value of the property? Assessors will look over the list of all your marital property and assign a dollar amount to each item. This can be a sticky subject, since often, things that we see as truly valuable are that way because of sentimentality. If your favorite item is valued at $1,200 while your spouse’s is valued at $20, it can be a cause for contention. Some other states would require that imbalance be corrected, but in AZ, agreeing that “you can have that item, if you let me have this one” can be perfectly valid.
  • Was the property a gift from one spouse to the other? This one is surprising for some people, since they often think the opposite would be true, but in AZ, gifts from spouse A to spouse B are automatically spouse B’s separate property, as long as they can prove it financially. This includes birthday gifts, anniversary presents, Christmas presents, etc. They’re not even factored in to the property division.
  • Was the property an inheritance? Just like gifts, inheritances are separate property, and won’t be included in division.

These are just a few examples, but the main gist is that property division in Arizona is within the couple’s power to decide, as long as it doesn’t appear that one individual is being strong-armed into taking less than they should. If you and your spouse are able to agree on a plan, then chances are it will be approved. Have no fear, though, the court is there to help out should any problems arise, and your attorney can help you fight for the things you really want.