Wondering how to protect yourself in a divorce as an Arizona resident? Splitting up with your spouse is already a highly unpleasant and complex process. Neglecting to educate yourself on this matter could lead to additional complications down the road.
If you’re considering splitting up with your spouse, you’re not alone. Arizona has some of the highest rates of divorce in the country. Whether you need protection against a financially irresponsible husband or tips on what not to do in a divorce, learning more about the subject is a good first step.
How are Assets Divided in an Arizona Divorce?
When you get divorced, the court will likely divide up your debts and assets so that you end up with half as much as you had before. Depending on the situation, you may have to pay child support or spousal maintenance (also called alimony).
Your financial situation may improve or worsen according to whether you’re the one providing support or receiving it from your spouse. In some cases, you may need to create a budget to help you get through the new financial changes. Many people rely on friends and family for help during the divorce process.
No matter the situation, you should eliminate all existing financial ties with your future ex as soon as you can. Not only will this potentially protect your assets before divorce, but it will also keep your credit score safe. Neglecting this step could mean that your spouse’s poor financial decisions impact your credit in the future.
Steps to Take before Filing for Divorce
Your level of preparedness will impact how smoothly the divorce goes. Here are some steps you can take to get ahead of the process:
Take Inventory of Belongings
Marital debts and assets qualify as community property and the court will divide them under Arizona law. Since all assets have value, you’ll need to take inventory of everything you own.
This includes furniture, electronics, art, collectibles, and even ordinary household items like sheets and utensils. Write it all down and take time-stamped photos of valuable items.
Have a Broker Assess Your Property
If you own a marital home or any real property, hire a real estate appraiser to provide you with its current market value. Snap photos of the condo or house to help with the valuation process.
Time-stamped pictures can also provide evidence of any damages to the property (if applicable).
If you know you’re getting divorced soon, try to be conservative with your spending to minimize debts. The more property, loans, and outstanding debt you have before a divorce, the more complicated the dissolution of marriage process will be.
Think About Timing
The time that you choose to get divorced can have different financial consequences.
If, for example, you’ve been married to your spouse for more than 10 years and they quality for Social Security benefits, you might qualify for some of those benefits later on if you don’t remarry. If you’ve been married for almost a decade, it could be worthwhile to wait until you pass the 10-year mark to receive this benefit.
Protect Your Credit
Depending on the situation with your soon to be ex, you may need to close or freeze your joint credit cards and accounts. Open a new account using just your name to protect your credit score.
Wait to Move Out
Before you move out of the house you share with your spouse, get legal advice. If you plan to continue living there during the divorce process, leaving may make it harder to return. It may also make it more difficult to retrieve your belongings later on. As long as the situation is safe, it’s best to stay put for the time being.
This information will help you get started, but it only covers the basics. Divorce can be quite complicated, so it’s best to consult a family law attorney to find out what else you need to do. That way, you can receive more customized advice on how to protect your money during divorce and other related matters.
How to Prepare for Divorce- Necessary Documents
In Arizona, you must file a petition to begin divorce (“dissolution of marriage”) proceedings in Superior Court. The current filing fee for the process is $321, though you may request that the court waive the payment if you meet the income requirements for this exception.
Once the divorce process has begun, you and your soon to be ex will receive a notice of the debts you’re each obligated to. This will cover debt-related responsibilities and rights you incurred while you were married.
Healthcare Insurance Information
You’ll also need to include a notice of your right to convert any existing health insurance policies.
Sensitive Data Sheet
This is where you’ll record private information (such as social security numbers) for you, your spouse, and your children. The sensitive data sheet will be sealed to protect your information.
This is a legal document notifying the receiver (respondent) that the other spouse has filed a divorce case involving the respondent. They must then file a response within 20 days if they want to have input on the case.
Joint Preliminary Injunction
Refers to an order of the court that prohibits either party from selling properties, transferring assets, or taking any other actions that compromise community property. The order goes into effect automatically when the divorce case begins.
Consult a Divorce Attorney in Arizona
Divorce laws in Arizona can be complicated and lengthy, especially if you share children with your spouse. The decisions you make during this process will impact the rest of your life. You may want to consult a family law attorney to learn more about potential legal issues related to your situation.
To get in contact and receive help with your divorce, give us a call at (480) 467-4348 or fill out a form below.
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