Division of Assets Lawyer
Dividing assets is one of the most essential aspects of any divorce case. Court orders regarding assets are usually permanent and may have a big impact on your finances, so it is best to retain legal counsel before entering litigation.
A Mesa division of assets lawyer could help you protect your personal property during divorce litigation with your spouse. An experienced attorney from our team could also explain the rules and laws that govern asset division and advocate for your ownership over any marital property you may be entitled to.
Which Assets Have to be Divided?
When you’re going through a divorce, property has to be divided roughly equally. But before we even start dividing, the first step is to identify everything. While you don’t have to identify every little piece of your personal property, it is essential to do a thorough inventory of all of your accounts, property, and debt.
You should begin with a list including but not limited to:
- every bank account,
- every retirement account,
- every piece of real property that you own (houses or land)
- CDs or other deposit accounts
- life insurance,
- vehicles, quads, campers
- interests you hold in businesses
- inheritance you may have received
- any rights to family roles, mineral rights, or water
- art or collections
- any items of value more than $500
Allocating Property in a Divorce or SeparationThe Mesa family court located at 222 N Javelina Dr must follow community property rules outlined in Arizona Revised Statute §25-318 and must award both spouses with 50 percent ownership of any community property, unless there is a compelling reason not to divide the assets equally. A judge will also award separate property to the spouse who acquired it. There is much confusion over the terms separate and community property, and many people guess wrong, with massive legal consequences associated with that guess. A Mesa asset division attorney could evaluate your marital estate and help you determine which property belongs to you separately and which is subject to division as community.
What is Community Property Versus Separate Property?When you get married, you and your spouse become one, and your individual status is altered. Now your individual status is that of the community. Every action that either of you takes during your marriage is thought to be on behalf of the community. This means that even if you did all the work during your marriage, your spouse stayed home, and you paid for everything, it doesn’t matter. All the money that you earned while you were married is community property unless you have an agreement that says otherwise. There are some exceptions. For example, if you receive gifts or inheritance while you are married, those would not be considered community property. However, anything that you’ve earned through your labor is subject to division upon divorce or separation. Generally, separate property is anything that you acquired before you were married. If you had a house before marriage, and then you and your spouse paid down on your house after getting married, that could be an issue. In most cases, that would still be your separate property, but the community may have a lien. If the community has an interest in a separate property, the property may still be divided, or a portion of it may be awarded to the non-owning spouse. Let’s say one spouse earns money well while married and then buys their partner a very expensive ring. The money that was used to purchase the ring was community money, but once it was given to someone as a gift, it’s separate property. This requires a thorough analysis to figure out what is the character of each piece of property.
Important ConsiderationsA local judge may not necessarily award both spouses half of their marital assets. The practicality of dividing assets may impact a judge’s decision when allocating property. For instance, requiring divorced spouses to share ownership of a piece of real estate may not be reasonable or even doable, and it’s possible neither spouse will want the property sold. Any debts or taxes associated with an asset could also impact property division orders.
State law also allows Mesa courts to consider actual damages caused by:
- Family violence or domestic abuse
- A spouse’s excessive or abnormal spending
- Destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposal of marital property
Court Ordered Liens on Property to Secure PaymentsDivorcing couples should be aware of the court’s ability to place liens on both separate and marital property. Doing so helps ensure the payment of various obligations such as:
- The opposing party’s interest or equity in a property
- Marital debts
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance