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'Bachelor' host's divorce highlights community property laws

The host of ABC's reality TV program "The Bachelor," Chris Harrison, is calling time on his 18-year marriage with his wife. Whether the divorce is deemed ironic (considering the show's goal of pairing love-seekers together) or apt (considering the show's, shall we say, "less than stellar" marital success rate for those love-seekers) or something in between, we'll leave for celebrity insiders to decide.

Presumably, Harrison and his soon-to-be-ex will have quite a few assets to divide considering the length of their marriage. Here in Arizona, we are one of nine states that recognize community property laws for marriage and divorce.

California, where Harrison's divorce is taking place, is another community property state. Community property laws can make divorce simple, as both parties receive a 50% stake in any property or assets the couple acquired during their marriage. It can also make divorce more complicated, as either party may feel they have been slighted with "only" half ownership of certain assets.

Ultimately, splitting assets can be a curse or a blessing. For example, you may reap the rewards of being considered a half-owner of a home or piece of property that you may not necessarily be attached to. Liquidating such an asset could greatly benefit a divorcee. On the other hand, debt that was racked up during marriage is also considered under community property laws.

For Harrison and his spouse, things seem to be alright in the immediate aftermath of their divorce announcement. A joint statement released by the splitting couple said that they retain "love and mutual respect" for each other.

Source: Reuters, "'The Bachelor' Host Chris Harrison is Getting Divorced," Edward Tan, May 4, 2012

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