When you and your spouse decide to end your marriage and move on with separate lives, you will have to face the issue of property division. Unless you’re willing to give up everything — or your spouse is ready to part with all of their assets — determining how property and debts will be split may be one of the most contentious issues you cope with. At the offices of Modern Law, PLLC, our Scottsdale division of property lawyer can help you to under the laws relevant to your case and will advocate for your best interests along the way. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
Arizona Community Property Laws — What You Need to Know
Arizona is a community property state. Simply put, this means that property in a marriage is “community property,” or jointly owned by both spouses, so long as it was acquired during the course of the marriage and does not meet certain exceptions (i.e. property was bequeathed or gifted to one party in the marriage). Property that was acquired before the marriage, or that was acquired through gift or bequeathment, is considered separate property.
In a community property state, marital property must be divided equally amongst the spouses at the time of dissolution of marriage, as must any marital debts. Separate property, on the other hand, is not subject to division and may be retained by its rightful owner.
There are typically two ways that property is split in order to ensure that assets are divided equally during a dissolution of marriage proceeding: by selling assets and dividing proceeds (i.e. selling a shared home and dividing any profits made on the home after paying off the mortgage), or by one spouse buying out the other spouse’s half of property. For example, if one party wishes to remain in the family home, they could buy out the other party’s half.
Does Fault Affect Property Division?
Fault plays no role in Arizona divorce laws, as Arizona is a no-fault state. This means that even if the other spouse caused the dissolution of the marriage, (i.e. had an affair) they are still entitled to 50 percent of the marital estate. The only time that fault may play a role in a property distribution determination is in the event that one party in the marriage committed an act of economic misconduct. For example, if you filed a petition for divorce, and in response and frustration, your spouse uses a joint credit card to make a very expensive, excessive, and unreasonable purchase, the court will likely find that you should not be liable for this purchase and related debt. Keep in mind that you are considered financially separate from your spouse the moment that you file your petition for divorce, but not sooner.
Can My Spouse and I Decide Who Gets What?
Yes — you and your spouse can decide who gets what during the dissolution of your marriage, and doing so is highly encouraged. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement about property division without going to court, this can save time, money, and stress. If you’re not in immediate agreement about how property should be divided, don’t panic — mediation can be a great tool for helping you and your spouse work out an arrangement that satisfies all parties. Our experienced Scottsdale dividing property attorneys can also represent you during negotiations.
What If My Case Goes to Court?
If you and your soon-to-be-ex are unable to determine how property will be divided, your case will go to court. If this happens, a judge will be responsible for determining who gets what. This situation is rarely ideal, as you will have little control over the outcome. That being said, if your case does go to court, our Scottsdale asset division lawyers can aggressively represent your best interests.
Call Our Law Firm Today
Our Scottsdale division of property lawyer at Modern Law, PLLC understands that during a divorce, the last thing that you want to have to deal with is losing your property in addition to disrupting the other elements of your life. We work hard to help you secure the property that matters to you most, ranging from your home to important family heirlooms to your retirement account and more. We have experience in all family law matters, and will competently guide you through your divorce and related issues. For your initial consultation, call us or text us today, or send us a message using the form on our website.