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The basics of Arizona property division

Property division often ranks among top concerns for divorcing couples. Whether you are trying to come to an amicable agreement or heading into a court battle, having the right information can help you protect yourself.

The first thing you should understand is that Arizona courts approach the issue of property division with several assumptions in place.

Community property

One of the most important concepts in property division is community property. The law assumes all property either spouse acquires during the marriage belongs to both equally. Thus, the default approach to division is giving each spouse half, regardless of their relative contributions.

Prenuptial agreements can change the terms

If your prenuptial agreement sets forth a different approach to division, courts will generally honor it, provided it is otherwise valid.

Separate property

Some types of property count as separate even if acquired during the marriage. These consist of inheritances, personal injury damage awards, federal benefits and professional licenses, as well as property or income derived from separate property. Property from before the marriage generally counts as separate but may commingle with the marital property after marriage.

Dividing a small business

When dealing with assets other than cash or bank accounts, the most common approach is to sell the asset and divide the proceeds. This works fine in many cases but can pose problems when the asset in question is a family-owned business.

First of all, getting an accurate assessment of a business's value can become quite complicated. Many people would also prefer to have the business survive rather than liquidate it for division.

One solution might be to have one spouse buy out the other's share. A judge may also award the business to one spouse and additional property with an equivalent value to the other. However, this may not be an option when no marital property of equivalent value exists.

The spouses may opt to continue operating the business together. Many people, however, find it difficult to work well with an ex-spouse and the business may suffer.


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