What is community property?

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Paul Dunn

In Arizona,  the term “community property” refers to property acquired during the marriage as a result of the earnings of either the husband or the wife while they were residents of Arizona or another community property state. If the property acquired was the result of the husband’s earnings, the wife is nevertheless considered to own one-half of the property. Of course, the same result would apply if the property were acquired as a result of the wife’s earnings. This “half and half” community property concept applies even if the husband or the wife deposited their paychecks in bank accounts registered solely in their own names. It would also apply if the husband or the wife purchased an automobile or parcel of real estate titled in their name alone.

This community property concept only applies to “earned” income. It does not apply to property that is acquired by the husband or the wife as a gift or as an inheritance. Property acquired by gift or inheritance is considered “separate” property. However, the spouse who receives the gift or inheritance can convert their separate property into community property at any time if they so choose.

Arizona’s community property law can be found at A.R.S. 25-211.