In the United States, there are only nine (9) states which adhere to Community Property principles. These State being: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Arizona’s community property laws can be found intertwined with many other domestic relations statutes and provisions outlined by Title 25, of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
By simple definition then, a spouse’s real and personal property that is owned by that spouse before marriage, is the separate property of that spouse. Moreover, property that is acquired by a spouse after service of a petition for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment is also the separate property of that spouse if the petition results in a decree of dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment. See A.R.S. § 25-213 & Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
Particularly, in Arizona, all property acquired by either husband or wife during the marriage is the community property of the husband and wife, except for a few exceptions. If you are uncertain as to whether an item acquired during your marriage may be exempt from community property principles, it is suggested that you contact the experienced community property and family attorneys at Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.
Again, I caution that the above classifications are basic in nature and are not meant to be construed as an exhaustive list for community property characterization. There are several items which if acquired a certain way, may be considered separate property of a spouse even though the item(s) were acquired during the marriage. Therefore, it is always a wide decision to contact an experienced Arizona family law attorney.
Now that basic classification is taken care, it is worth noting that each spouse has the sole management, control and disposition rights to each spouse’s separate property. Makes sense, right……? With this said, in Arizona, both spouses have equal management, control and disposition rights over their community property and have equal power to bind the community. Again, as with characterization, there are certain circumstances, where one spouse acting independently of the other would not have the authority to bind the community in whole. As with other suggestions listed herein, seek advice from a local family law attorney to better determine whether the unilateral actions of your spouse may or may not bind the community at large.
There are other issues that are relevant to a more complete understanding of Arizona Community Property Law, such as liability of community property and separate property for community; and separate debts and ownership classifications of property acquired after moving into the state.
The premier, yet discounted and affordable Arizona Family Law attorneys at Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC can answer any other community property and/or family law question you may have. You can contact our firm to arrange your free consultation by calling, (602) 515-0841.