Seperate Bank Accounts and Divorce in Arizona: What to Know


Divorce has shifted from a what-if scenario to when for many families across the United States. As the sanctity of marriage decreases and divorce rates are skyrocketing, many unsuspecting spouses are waking up in the morning and finding divorce papers sitting next to their morning coffee.

The overall process of a divorce can be both psychologically and physically taxing as you will have many life altering decisions to make. These decisions are difficult, as they effect things such as where you will be sleeping, how much money you have, and how will you pay for your normal bills. 

Splitting Bank Accounts in a Divorce

  • Savings accounts can be split or sole property of one of the spouses depending on how they are classified
  • Checking accounts will be monitored and the money in them may be split
  • Retirement accounts do not belong to one spouse and the money in it may be pulled out to be fairly split

Splitting Property in a Divorce

When it comes to the splitting of assets during a divorce, most people have heard of the classic fifty-fifty split of marital assets where all assets are added together and given a valuation which each spouse gets roughly half of.

The fifty-fifty split is legally known as the community property standard and is only used in a few states such as Arizona, California and Texas. In community property states, all property, assets and bank accounts that were purchased, created or used during the course of a marriage belong equally to both parties in a divorce.

In community property states, the easiest way to determine what is considered community property is to first figure out what is separate property. Separate or non-community property are assets purchased or accounts opened before the marriage began as well as any gifts or items inherited. Everything else will be community property.

How Bank Accounts are Split in a Divorce

Arizona is a community property state, so property will be split equally amongst the divorcing spouses. Some of the most important assets deemed to be community property are bank(checking/savings) and retirement accounts.

This designation is often confusing to some people, as their bank account most likely existed before the wedding began and accounts existing before the marriage are not considered to be community property. Even though an account existed before the marriage began, all of the money in the account does not belong solely to the spouse whose name is on the account.

A court will view a bank account as a place where money has been added to throughout the marriage and any money added to the account throughout the marriage is considered community property.

Separate Bank Accounts in a Marriage

When it comes to dividing marital assets such as bank accounts, the name on the account is of little to no importance. The only time it is beneficial to have a separate account in your own name is if that account existed before the marriage and you are not planning on adding any additional funds to it or using it to pay for things.

If you come into a marriage with a separate bank account, that account will only be considered separate and not community property so long as it is not used by you or your spouse during your marriage. Should you decide to deposit funds into the account or use the money for something such as paying bills, a judge will then consider the account to be commingled and will then classify the account as community property.

How to Protect Assets in a Divorce

If you are in the early stages of a divorce and are looking to protect your assets, the most important way to protect your assets is to act quickly and hire a divorce lawyer who will assist you in preparing any required documents as well as assisting you in determining what is needed protect your assets. In addition to this, the following steps will be useful:

  1. Do not drain a bank account or take out excessive amounts of cash as the courts will not view this favorably.
  2. Identify any and all assets that are solely in your name or belong to you. This means that you will need to determine which of your assets is not community property as well as what is community property
  3. Obtain hard copies of any financial statements such as, bank statements, loans and investments.
  4. Go through your financial statements and determine which bills will need to be paid in the near future as well as how much it will cost to pay each of them.

Following these basic steps will prepare you for your meeting with your divorce attorney but more importantly they may also serve as evidence against your former spouse if they try to hide any money or assets from the court.

FAQ about Bank Accounts and Divorce:

Q: Do I have to split my savings in a divorce?

A. Even though the savings account is in your name, courts view savings accounts as community property and it will be split between you and your spouse in the divorce.

Q: Are separate bank accounts marital property?

A. Separate bank accounts are marital property if they are considered to be commingled. This means that if you or your spouse have depositing money into or used the funds from the account, it is considered to be commingled and must be equally split in a divorce.

Q: What bank accounts aren’t split in a divorce?

A. If a separate bank account existed before a marriage began and money was neither added to it nor taken out of it, then it is considered separate property and it is not eligible to be split.

Receive Help with an Arizona Divorce with Separate Assets

The process of going through a divorce and splitting marital assets is challenging and confusing if you do not have help, but you do not have to do it alone. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side will ensure the process runs smoothly as well as the court awards you all that you deserve.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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