If you’re getting divorced, you’ll have to decide how you’ll divide up your debts and property between you and your spouse. If you can’t agree, you may ask a court to do this for you. The community property laws in Arizona state that any debts or assets acquired during the marriage belong to both parties.
In accordance with this law, the property must be divided fairly and approximately equally.
Even if you didn’t intend to do so, your bank account or home might count as community property if you treated them as such during the marriage. While most items will be split about evenly between you, some exceptions exist. If one spouse racks up debt on their own in an irresponsible way, for example, they may end up with a higher percentage of debt to pay.
Working with an attorney can be helpful for securing your best chance at a favorable outcome in your divorce.
What to Know About Property Division in an Arizona Divorce
- Most assets acquired during a marriage belong to both spouses in Arizona
- It’s possible to commingle marital assets (like a home or account) without intentionally doing so
- You will have to determine the value of your assets or have the court do it for you
- An attorney can help you create a legally sound property settlement agreement
Whether you go through the court or you handle dividing property on your own, you’ll need to figure out whether the debt or property in question is marital or individual. You will decide how the marital property should be divided once you agree on its value.
Martial vs. Separate Property
Since Arizona is a community property state, most debts or assets acquired during a marriage belong about equally to each spouse. However, property that belonged exclusively to one spouse before getting married or was acquired as an inheritance or gift, doesn’t count as marital (community) property as long as financial records support this. Partners may change a separate asset into a community asset during the marriage, or vice versa.
It’s possible to change separate property into marital property inadvertently by commingling (combining) separate property with community assets. For example, if one spouse has a premarital bank account, it may become community property if the other partner adds funds to it.
If both spouses contribute to mortgage payments on a house that’s owned by only one of them, it may become either partially or completely marital property.
How is the Marital Home Handled?
Your marital home may be deeded in one partner’s name, held as tenants in common, or held jointly. Unless your house was only deeded in one of your names, the house will usually be evenly split between each of you. If you want to keep the house, you’ll most likely have to purchase your ex out of their portion. You should also refinance the property in order to take your ex off the mortgage.
How Working With an Attorney Can Help
Distinguishing martial assets from separate assets is complicated for some spouses. In complex situations regarding property in a divorce, it’s a wise call to consult an attorney for advice on what to do next.
If you agree with your spouse on the terms of your debt and property division, you may present a judge with your property settlement agreement. This agreement should include each debt and asset, its value, and who owns it. To ensure that the agreement is legally sound, it’s best to consult an experienced legal professional to review it.
Frequently Asked Questions on Property Division and Divorce
Here are a few of the most common questions divorcing couples may have about property division in Arizona:
Q: Does the length of your marriage impact the division of property?
Arizona law doesn’t state that the length of marriage has an effect on how property shall be divided in the event of divorce. But, in most cases, the longer the marriage was, the more property there will be to split between the two spouses.
Q: My divorce was my spouse’s fault. Does this impact property division?
If your marriage ended because your spouse betrayed you, will they receive less property as a result? Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that the legal system doesn’t usually take each spouse’s conduct into account when dividing assets. If your spouse spent money on an activity that didn’t benefit the community, however, you shouldn’t be responsible for their expenses.
Establishing wasteful spending like this can be difficult, so if you’re in this situation, you should file for a divorce quickly to minimize your obligations for your spouse’s debts. Filing and serving your ex with a petition to divorce will sever your link to any debts they incur afterwards.
Q: How should I determine property value during the divorce process?
Either the spouses or the court will assign a value to each asset from the marriage. You can call in a professional to get an appraisal for real property and valuables such as artwork or antique items. You may need to speak with a financial professional to properly value your retirement assets.
Q: Can I still hold property with my spouse after getting a divorce?
To most divorcing spouses, holding property with their ex sounds unthinkable and would make it harder to move on. However, if you still have kids in school, you might decide to keep your house until they graduate. As an alternative to selling your assets and splitting the proceeds, you can agree to keep certain property together, if that suits your needs better.
What to Do if You Need Help With a Divorce in Arizona
Most of the time, the court will honor an agreement between you and your ex. However, if the conditions seem unbalanced or unfair, the judge may want to look further into the matter before approving it. If you’re in the midst of divorce proceedings and have questions about how to split your house with your ex-partner, consult an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.