How Is Property Divided In An Arizona Divorce?
Divorce is hard for everyone, but you can make the process a little less painful(and easier) by researching how property is divided upon divorce. After you research well, you should contact a family law attorney Mesa and see what your options are. Arizona law requires an equitable division of all community (marital) property upon divorce. This blog post will provide you with all the information you need to differentiate what property will be up for division and what will be considered personal property.
Identifying Assets And Debts
Both you and your spouse will have to make an inventory of all your assets and debts, whether jointly or separately owned/owed. Identification should be comprehensive and precise. You must describe all your assets and debts with specificity as to description, date of acquisition, etc. The judge will then determine, based on factual evidence like paperwork and your testimonies, the proper category for your various assets and liabilities.
Personal Property Is Not Subject To Division Upon Divorce
With a few exceptions, all the assets and debts you acquired before the marriage will remain your own throughout and after marriage. All property acquired before the marriage by either spouse is considered personal property and cannot be divided between the spouses after divorce. Spouses do not have a legal claim to or liability arising from each other’s personal assets and debts.
Even though property acquired after marriage is presumed to be owned communally, personal property can be acquired after marriage through several means. The most common ways of acquiring personal property after marriage are if the property was given to the spouse as a gift or as an inheritance. Any property acquired after the initiation of divorce proceedings is also personal property.
Community Property Is Divided Equitably Between Spouses
With a few statutory exceptions, community property includes all assets and debts that were acquired after marriage. It includes the marital home, pensions, 401ks, IRAs, deferred compensation, commissions, stock options, salaries, and all property purchased using such wages.
Co-Mingled Or Transmuted Property Is Shared Between Spouses
Personal property may be handled in such a manner as it comingles with community property to a level where the difference between it and community property is indistinguishable. For example, where one spouse funds their personal business holding using a loan or finances from the community property. Commingling may happen accidentally or intentionally, but it always causes personal property to be considered communal.
Transmuted personal property is that which has undeniably transformed into category property. Usually, a spouse may transmute their personal property by expressly gifting it to the community. Personal debts and liabilities, e.g., student debts, become transmuted by the agreement of both spouses.
Classification Of Assets And Liabilities
After you and your spouse list all the property and liabilities that you each own or owe, the judge will have to categorize them as either personal or communal property. Classification of the property into these categories can be straightforward or complex depending on the variables considered. This categorization is usually based on a combination of factors.
The judge will consider whether the property was acquired before or after marriage. The court will also consider if the title or other proof of ownership bears the names of both spouses. Having a single spouse’s name on a title document does not guarantee it will be considered personal property. During categorization, the judge will also consider evidence of commingling or transmuting property.
Valuation Of Assets Communal Assets
After identifying and categorizing all your assets and liabilities, the next step is to assign the value to all the community property identified. Fair market value must be established for the non-sentimental property. Where spouses wish to divide the property of purely sentimental value like pets or family photos, then they will have to come to a settlement agreement as to who gets to keep what.
The longer you have been married and acquiring communal property, the more complex the listing, categorization, valuation, and division of property shall be. Challenges usually experienced during valuation include concealed property, hidden assets, and undervalued property. Your lawyers will engage forensic accountants and investigators who will sift through your financial transactions to compile a complete and honest listing of all your tangible and intangible property.
When the court determines the value of communal property, they consider what the spouses have agreed to as the value, their testimony, and any available expert evaluations. At trial, your spouse will also call their own expert witnesses to assign value in complex property division cases. The court will consider all the testimony and the credentials of the expert witnesses when assigning value to communal property.
Division Of Community Assets And Debts
Division of property is the final step in this process. The judge begins by awarding each spouse any property found to be personal. Finally, the judge awards each spouse one-half of the community estate, with a few exceptions. Where couples have a valid prenuptial agreement, it must be adhered to when dividing the community property.
Sometimes, the conduct of the spouses during the marriage can affect the division of the communal estate. For example, where one spouse depleted the communal estate, e.g., by gambling or funding extramarital affairs, the judge will order that spouse to compensate the other for their share of the communal property.
Usually, the communal estate is used to settle all debts acquired during marriage before dividing the remaining assets. Spouses can agree on who gets which property, failure to which the court often orders the sale of all communal property. The proceeds from the sale are much easier to distribute equitably than the property itself.
Always Seek Expert Help
There are many considerations, including taxes, to factor in when dividing property after divorce. It is advisable to rely on a reputable firm like https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/ who will walk you through the whole process with efficiency and empathy.
Our team of family law attorneys and divorce attorneys look forward to helping you when you need it most. With over two decades of aggressive divorce, child custody, child support, and divorce mediation representation we will not allow you to be taken advantage of. We believe in making a difference in the lives of our clients and their children.
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