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What community property is and how you can prepare for it

There are only a handful of states in the U.S. that abide by community property laws. This doesn't mean that community property laws are "bad," but it does mean that these laws are more uncommon -- and, thus, maybe not as recognizable or understandable -- as other property division laws. Arizona is one of the states that follows community property laws.

What is community property? Simply put, community property is a means of dividing property between two spouses that have filed for divorce.


How does community property work? This varies from state to state, and it depends on how the specific law in each state is written. But, in general, community property laws say that each spouses has a stake in any marital assets, and this stake is usually 50 percent. Obviously, this isn't always how it ends up in a divorce, but that's how community property laws generally function. Some states use a 50/50 split, while others use an "equitable" split.

What is deemed a "marital asset"? Again, this varies. But, in general, you can expect most, if not all, assets that were accumulated during your marriage to be considered a "marital asset" under community property laws. Some assets are exempt however (certain gifts, for example).

What should you do to get through the community property process? Having an experienced family law attorney is critical for getting through the community property process in an efficient and effective manner. There may be some tough times during property division discussions, and your attorney can help you during these moments.

Source: FindLaw, "Community Property Overview," Accessed May 28, 2015

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