“L’Eggo my Eggo”-AZ Sole and Separate Property
Written by: Stefano Ceroni
Just because Arizona is a “community property” State doesn’t mean Arizona divorce couples can’t own sole and separate property. In fact, only property acquired during marriage (with a few small exceptions) is actually considered “community property.” In other words, each party could potentially have a lot of items in the community home not subject to equitable division during divorce.
To be more specific, A.R.S. § 25-211 states that all property acquired by either husband or wife during the marriage is community property of the husband and wife except for property that is:
1. Acquired by gift, devise or descent; or
2. Acquired after service of a petition for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment if the petition results in a decree of dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment.
What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that you can start earning and collecting sole and separate property even while you are still married.
According to #2 above, the community window closes after the date of service of a petition for dissolution so long as the petition results in a final divorce, separation or annulment decree. Put another way, once a party is properly served with separation, annulment or divorce paperwork, each party goes back to earning and acquiring sole and separate assets, even though they are still legally married.
The same rules that apply to property and asset acquisition also apply to the expenditure of community money and the acquisition of debt. That’s right! If you choose to go to Vegas on a post breakup binger and empty out the joint bank account, watch out, because odds are you’re going to have to pay that all back if the other party has not been served with a divorce, separation or annulment petition.
Therefore, to truly understand just what rights of ownership you have in your possessions, you need to know the exact date of service (of the petition for dissolution, separation or annulment) and the exact date the property or asset was acquired. Without these things, you will never know to what property you are actually entitled.
Although it is always the best practice to discuss your property issues with a well-qualified domestic relations attorney, the above mentioned rules are a good starting point for understanding your individual property rights.
With that said, the next time your spouse asks for part of your paycheck after you’ve already been served with divorce papers, tell ‘em “L’eggo my Eggo”, because chances are he or she is trying to taking a bite out of your sole and separate property!