In Arizona, marriage is legally considered a community where both spouses share equal rights and responsibilities. Due to this critical legal distinction, the property and assets that are owned by the couple are considered to be community property and must be divided equally in the event of a divorce.
Due to Arizona’s community property laws, bitter spouses will go to great ends to hide property and assets in a divorce. Whether it is a 401k, a vintage watch, or even a pile of cash under the mattress, many spouses will purposely fail to disclose assets in order to prevent splitting them with their former spouse.
Whether or not your divorce is amicable, each spouse needs to come up with an itemized list of all property, bank accounts, and assets that they own. Then, once you have created an itemized list, the next step is to hire an experienced family law attorney.
An experienced family law attorney will protect your rights and ensure that you receive every asset and dollar you deserve. If you are going through a divorce, contact the JacksonWhite Family Law Team to schedule a consultation.
What is Community Property?
Arizona is a community property state, and this simply means that the marital property is shared equally by the two spouses. In the event of a divorce, the marital property and assets are divided both equitably and equally.
The following are several of the most common assets held by a couple that is considered to be community property:
- The marital home/residence
- Pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s
- Real estate
- Recreational vehicles
While all of these assets fall under community property rules, not all assets will be equally divided. For instance, if an asset was purchased before the couple was married, it is not considered community property.
What is Not Considered Community Property?
For an asset or property not to be considered community property, it must have been a gift, inherited, or owned before the marriage began. Suppose the asset or property meets any of these criteria. In that case, it is not considered to be community property, and so long as it is not commingled with other marital assets, it will remain in sole ownership of the spouse.
But, if the asset or property is commingled with other marital assets, they will become community property. For instance, if a spouse owned a house before the marriage and chooses to live there after getting married, the house automatically becomes community property.
If you are unsure whether or not an asset you own is considered to be community property or not, contact Jackson White Law. The family law team at Jackson White Law can work with you to determine whether or not an asset belongs to you, and they can work to ensure you receive every asset you are entitled to.
Ways a Spouse Will Hide Assets in A Divorce
While some spouses will unintentionally hide assets that are not considered to be community property, others will go above and beyond to ensure that their former spouse receives as little as possible in a divorce. The following are some of the most common ways a spouse will try to hide assets in a divorce:
1. Changing Account Passwords
While your spouse changing their social media passwords after a divorce is typical, it is not normal for a spouse to change bank account and investment account login and passwords. All financial accounts used during a marriage are community property, and both parties should be able to access the accounts and observe all transactions taking place.
2. Making Inexplicable Withdrawals or Purchases
One of the most important reasons to have access to your bank account is to view all of the transactions and look out for out-of-habit spending. Some spouses will try to hide assets and drain their bank account by racking up large purchases out of the blue. Be sure to look for unordinary purchases and speak with your former spouse if their spending habit is suspicious.
3. Split-Depositing Paychecks
If your spouse has a stable job, they should have a steady paycheck deposited into their bank account each month. If your spouse is depositing less money in the bank than they usually are, it can be a sign that they are split-depositing their checks.
When a divorce is looming, some spouses will open up a new bank account and divert a portion of their paycheck into the new account and the remaining amount into the old account. Be sure to look for any changes in the amount of a deposit or the frequency of which your former spouse deposits their paychecks.
4. Depositing Money in Children’s Accounts
The money in your child’s savings account and college fund are not considered to be marital assets. Due to this, it is common for a spouse to transfer money into these “untouchable” accounts only to pull it out after the divorce.
If your spouse is listed as the custodian for the account, they have access to the account and can add money to or pull it out at any time. Be sure to look for uncommon deposits in your children’s bank accounts.
5. Saying an Asset isn’t Worth Anything
While your former spouse may lead you to believe that their old baseball card collection or garage full of old car parts are worth nothing, these items may be worth a small fortune. Due to this, be sure to itemize everything that you own.
6. Spontaneous Generosity
If your spouse decides to start donating a large amount of money out of the blue, it may not be because they were feeling generous. Some spouses will suddenly give out valuable assets and gifts to their family members or friends to get them back after your divorce is finalized.
Get Help Today
Going through a divorce is a difficult process, especially if your former spouse is trying to hide community property assets. If you are going through a divorce, it is vital to take every step necessary to protect what is rightfully yours, and the best action you can take is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.