Finding A Fair And Equitable Division Of Property
When you are facing divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns, including what will happen to your property. All divorces must deal with the issue of property division. At Ayala Law Office, P.C., our experienced attorneys can help you understand the law and what you can expect during the process. Whether you decide to negotiate a settlement agreement with your ex-spouse or take the question to a judge, we will advocate for you every step of the way.
What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?
As a community property state, Arizona law states that courts must oversee an equitable distribution of community property in a divorce. What does this mean? Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal division, although it can. Instead, the judge should look for ways to divide the property in a fair and equitable manner. This allows the judge to balance certain fairness and misconduct issues against a 50/50 split.
Community property is a term that refers to any property that a couple acquires during the marriage. There are a few exceptions to this definition, such as gifts and inheritances, but even an inheritance can become community property if it becomes commingled with marital funds. Property division can become quite complex with certain assets.
You can generally keep separate property, which includes anything you owned prior to the marriage. Again, however, if the separate property becomes commingled with community property, you may not be able to pull it back out. Similarly, if your spouse contributed to that property during the marriage, they may have a claim to their contribution.
Who Gets The House?
One common question people ask is who will get the family home. Assuming the home is community property, you both have an equal claim to it in a divorce. Many couples agree on how to proceed, especially if they have children and one person wants to keep the children in the family home. You do have options, however, including:
- One person stays in the home and either buys out the other person’s share or balances it with other community property.
- You sell the house and divide the proceeds of the sale.
- You both keep the house as joint tenants and continue to share responsibility for the house.
For obvious reasons, the third option is not used often. The first option requires you to either agree on the home’s value or hire a professional appraiser to determine its value. If you cannot agree on what to do with the house, the court will decide for you, either awarding the property to one party or ordering its sale.