Generally speaking, all assets and debts acquired during a marriage are divided equally upon divorce. However, the law allows for “equitable division,” which is not always equal.
There are many ways that spouses can contribute to their marital community during marriage. When a couple gets divorced, a family law judge must consider both parties’ contributions to the marriage in order to determine whether an even split of their community property is appropriate or an unequal distribution would be more equitable under the given set of circumstances.
What are the circumstances that may call for an unequal distribution of community property? The co-mingling of separate property like inheritance or pre-marital assets for the benefit of the community, large gifts received by one spouse’s family, or significant sacrifices by one spouse that benefit the other. If you need assistance with fighting for your property rights in court, you should speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the impact of spousal contributions on asset division in Mesa.
Generally, the most important contributions to consider when dividing property in Mesa are investments of money made by either spouse. For example, a down payment on a home could impact the outcome of asset division. Other investments like paying for a spouse’s education at a university and thereby improving their earning capacity is also important. One spouse working and paying for living expenses does not generally qualify as financial contributions.
Many couples who file for divorce do not fully understand Mesa’s community property laws. In a community property state, either spouse could be a earning a million dollars a year while the other does not work at all. If that couple accumulated property and assets due to the work of one spouse, both spouses are generally given half – regardless of individual effort. In other words, community property states do not require that both spouses have contributed to the accumulation of property to receive half of the value.
Moreover, many spouses are surprised to learn that even the substantial retirement they have accumulated through their employment is up for distribution upon divorce. Regardless of whether one party earns income or retirement benefits while the other does not, everything that they acquire during the marriage will be divided in half.
One way to avoid conflict over retirement accounts and other assets is to enter into a prenuptial agreement. Spouses can agree in writing that state community property law does not apply to their assets.
When a couple is divorcing, one spouse may need financial support from the other to get back on their feet or to get an education so they can become self-sufficient. For example, if one party stays home to raise their children, they may not possess any skills that are marketable in the workplace.
State law presumes that the person who stays at home to take care of the children thereby enables the other spouse to achieve their career goals. These non-monetary contributions may entitle them to alimony upon divorce. Alimony, or spousal maintenance, can translate into assets in certain cases.
The reason for this is Mesa family courts use no fault divorce, which means all a couple has to say to dissolve their marriage is that it is over and irretrievably broken. Before the no-fault system was implemented into family law, a person could claim that their spouse cheated on them and use property as a way to financially punish them.
While that is no longer the case, there is one exception if the person having an affair spends money with their lover on a vacation. The other spouse could get some of that money back on the theory that it was not spent for the benefit of their marital community. For help with understanding these statutory nuances, it is best to work with an attorney who has experience with the impact of spousal contributions on asset division in Mesa.