my husband had significant credit card debt when we got married - is that considered "community debt" in arizona?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Arizona is a community property state. This means all debt and income (unless there is a pre-marital agreement stating otherwise) is part of the community. Certain assets and debts still may not be part of the community, such as: gifts or inheritances acquired by one spouse during the marriage and those items owed/incurred by the respective spouse prior to the marriage.
Any debt already incurred by either of you remains your own separate debt during the marriage unless you agree to something otherwise, or take steps to make the debt a community debt (such as refinancing it as a community debt or consolidating the debt with other community obligations with both your names on the new loan). So, it seems that your husband's credit card debt (along with any other debt he had prior to marriage) is his separate obligation.
Credit card debt can be a bit tricky, as it is revolving credit. As such, any use of the card during the marriage (regardless if it has just his name on it) may be considered community debt. Over time, as he makes payments on his separate debt, then uses the card to create community debt, the distinction may become less clear.
No. Only debt incurred during the marriage is subject to division.
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/s/ Rich J. Peters
R.J. Peters & Assoc., P.C.
1422 North 2nd Street, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
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