Proving Separate Property in Divorce in Arizona
The division of property in a divorce can get really ugly, especially if you and your ex aren’t splitting on amicable terms. In such instances, you will have to establish the property and assets acquired during the marriage and those to be considered separate property.
In some scenarios, proving separate property can be difficult. Arizona hasn’t addressed the burden of proof in these situations but if you’re facing a complicated divorce, you should definitely have solid proof about the assets you consider to be your own.
What Is Separate Property?
According to Arizona regulations, community property consists of everything acquired during the marriage. Community property is split 50/50 between the two spouses.
Your separate property consists of everything you acquired prior to getting married. In addition, property acquired via gift, descent or devise is also considered separate regardless of when it was acquired.
There’s a presumption of community property for everything acquired during the marriage. The individual who wants to challenge the assumption will have to provide convincing evidence that establishes why the respective item or asset should be treated as separate property.
Proving that certain property is separate can be very difficult in the event of a long-term marriage dissolution. The comingling of separate with community property is one of the most common reasons why.
What Is Property Commingling?
Whenever someone mixes their separate property with community property, commingling will take place.
There are many examples of commingling but here’s a simple illustration – having a separate bank account with some money in it before getting married and continuing to make deposits during the marriage. The initial sum in the bank account is separate property but every new deposit adds up to the community property.
If this were to happen, you will need a bank statement that establishes the sum in the account before the marriage. This record and additional evidence will be needed to determine the portion of the money that is separate property.
Apart from commingling, there’s one more similar practice that can lead to complications down the road. This situation involves turning separate property into community property. A common example is using a sum you acquired before getting married to buy a house with your spouse. Whenever separate property is turned into community property, it will once again be difficult to establish the right guidelines for the division of assets in the event of divorce.
Proving That You Own Separate Property
As the person who is challenging the property division, you have to find the evidence to establish separate property.
Distinguishing community property from separate property can become so complicated in some divorce scenarios that the two partners leave the matter in the hands of the court. Whenever this happens, a judge will be determining for the distinction and the allocation of property and assets.
The best thing to do in such situations is to talk to your spouse before things go too far.
Getting one item assigned to you and another to your ex is a common method for handling the situation. You can also offer to buy your spouse out or to reach some degree of equal distribution so that everyone is happy.
Keep in mind that debt acquired during the marriage will also have to be handled by the two of you. If debt is assigned to you, your ex could ask the court to put a lien on separate property to ensure that the debt will be paid off.
If the process of dividing property, assets and debts cannot be completed in a simple manner outside of court, you will have to take the next step in order to protect your separate property. You will need to hire an experienced Arizona divorce attorney who will give you a better idea about the type of proof required and whether it’s possible at all to establish certain property as separate.
Click here for more information on hiding assets during divorce in Arizona.