Understanding Arizona’s Property Division Statute (A.R.S. 25-318) in Divorce, Annulment, or Legal Separation
In the realm of divorce proceedings in Arizona, A.R.S. 25-318 plays a pivotal role in determining property division, obligations, and financial considerations. Rideout Law Group has extensive family law experience and can help you navigate the intricacies of this statute effectively during your divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
A.R.S. 25-318: The Basics
A.R.S. 25-318 governs property disposition in divorce, annulment, and legal separation cases in Arizona. Crucially, Arizona operates as a community property state, which means that assets acquired during the marriage are jointly owned, regardless of individual contributions, payment sources, or property titles. Here’s how A.R.S. 25-318 addresses key aspects of property division:
- Property Allocation: The court must assign each spouse’s separate property to them. Additionally, community, joint tenancy, and other common property must be divided equitably, irrespective of marital misconduct. Even property acquired outside Arizona may be treated as community property if it would be considered so within the state.
- Considering Debts: Property division isn’t limited to assets alone. The court may take into account debts related to the property, including accrued taxes and property exemptions outlined in title 33, chapter 8.
- Addressing Misconduct: A.R.S. 25-318 doesn’t prohibit the court from considering factors like damages and judgments resulting from criminal convictions involving one spouse harming the other spouse or a child, as well as excessive spending, destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of shared property.
- Unaddressed Property: If the divorce decree doesn’t specify the division of certain jointly owned property, it becomes held by both parties as tenants in common, with each possessing an undivided one-half interest.
- Imposing Liens: To secure payments, the court has the authority to place liens on separate or marital property. This can include securing interests, community debts, child support, spousal maintenance, as well as damages and judgments from criminal convictions.
- Detailed Decrees: The court decree or judgment must precisely describe affected real property and other relevant assets.
- Retroactive and Prospective Application: A.R.S. 25-318 applies to property with no regard for the date of acquisition, both retrospectively and prospectively.
- Notice to Creditors: In divorce, annulment, or legal separation cases, the court provides a notice emphasizing that court orders regarding community debts bind only the spouses and don’t relieve them of responsibility to creditors. Creditors aren’t bound by court orders and may request a lien against the separate property of a spouse.
- Requesting Credit Reports: The court may issue orders for credit reporting agencies to release credit reports of spouses upon request, typically for a customary fee.
- Debt Distribution Plan: The court may require parties to submit a debt distribution plan that outlines how community debts will be paid, existing agreements between the parties, and any arrangements made with creditors.
- Agreements with Creditors: Parties can enter agreements with creditors to specify debt responsibility or release, with the option to use a provided form for verification.
- Court-Approved Plans: If parties can’t agree on debt distribution, the court may order them to submit proposed plans. The court’s orders must reflect the approved debt distribution plan.
- Real Property Agreements: Agreements with creditors affecting real property in Arizona must include a legal description of the property, a copy of relevant notes and security instruments, and a notarized acknowledgment. These agreements must also be recorded.
- Title Company Records: After recording agreements, parties can request lien search reports and other records from authorized title companies in Arizona.
- Enforcing Debt Orders: Failure to comply with debt payment orders can lead to property transfer or sanctions. Enforcement actions must be initiated within two years of the debt’s due date.
- Creditor Information: Creditors must provide balance and account status information to spouses upon written request within 30 days.
- Child Support and Spousal Maintenance: If any part of property division relates to child support or spousal maintenance, the court must make specific findings and conclusions in its decree.
You can find the full statute here.
Rideout Law Group’s Assistance
Navigating A.R.S. 25-318 and its implications in divorce proceedings can be challenging. Rideout Law Group, with offices in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City, is here to provide expert legal guidance and support for your Arizona case. Our experienced attorneys understand the complexities of this situation and are dedicated to protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests during this emotionally charged time.
Contact us today at 480-584-3328 to schedule a consultation and benefit from our expertise in property division in divorce proceedings in Arizona. We are here to assist you every step of the way.