Going through a divorce isn’t an easy process for anyone. There are so many things to be decided and because of the already uncomfortable situation, it can be difficult to work together and come to a consensus that makes everyone happy. This is even more challenging when the conditions are more volatile. Because Arizona is a community property state, dividing up the items you own can be particularly challenging. Regardless of who bought the item, everything is equally owned by both parties and both individuals have equal rights to claim just about anything. This is why it’s important to understand how the Arizona courts decide who gets what when individuals can’t agree between themselves.
What You Should Know
Most of the assets you acquired during your marriage falls under the community property laws and belongs equally to both of you. Even assets you had prior to marriage can easily become intermingled unintentionally, making dividing them more difficult during the divorce process. One of the most important elements of dividing the property is determining its value. While the parties involved in the divorce can work together to divide the items fairly based on the value they place on them, the court can also help determine the value of certain assets and items. An attorney can also be extremely useful in this task. Remember, both debt and assets need to be divided as equally as possible between the two parties.
Marital Vs. Separate Property
Many people don’t understand how to tell the difference between marital and separate property. For instance, perhaps the husband purchased tools and doesn’t feel they should belong to the wife at all. Maybe the wife was the one who chose the furniture and feels like she has more of a right to it than the husband. In most cases, everything purchased during the marriage belongs equally to both parties. If both parties contributed financially to larger purchases, even before the marriage, it is also considered marital property. However, if one spouse obtained the property themselves before the marriage or it is a family inheritance received during the marriage, it is considered separate property, unless it has been mingled. An attorney can help you determine if this has occurred. The marital home is one of the most difficult elements to determine properly and may require professional help to decide how to handle the home.
One of the biggest questions individuals have is whether the length of marriage affects property division. In general, it does not. While a shorter marriage often involves less property obtained during the marriage, there is no difference in how much stake an individual has in said property based on how long they were married.
While most couples file no-fault divorces, sometimes there is a situation that warrants one party to be named at fault in the divorce proceedings. In these situations, the person who was wronged may feel they have a larger stake in the property that must be divided. In most cases, the property is still divided equally between the two parties, but there are exceptions, particularly where debt is concerned. For instance, if one spouse cheated on the other and racked up a large amount of debt while doing so, they are more likely to be given a larger portion or perhaps all the debt.
Assigning value is another sticking point for many people. While the parties can agree on the value of items to be divided, the court can also step in to help if needed. A proper appraisal may be required for higher ticket items as well. If you have retirement assets that need to be considered, be sure to talk to an accountant to get a realistic view of how much of those assets belong under marital property.
Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure all assets, property and debt is divided in a way that is fair to all parties involved. No two situations are the same, making it essential to reach out for help. For more information about divorce and community property laws, call us today. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call The Sampair Group in Phoenix and the West Valley today to schedule your appointment.