When there's a divorce or legal separation, property must be divided. Aside from child custody matters, dividing property can be one of the most emotionally-charged parts of the entire process. You become attached to things. You think you are owed things. You have very strong ideas of what's yours and what's not. At the same time, your spouse or the judge may see things differently.
One thing that is extremely difficult is the division of real property, like your home. You may have lived there for years. You may have raised your children there. Memories – good and bad – are hidden around every corner. But a home can't be split in half, so it becomes a question of what happens to it (or other real estate property).
Having a compassionate attorney by your side throughout the dissolution of your marriage and while dividing property is key to your sanity and critical to making sure your rights and interests are heard and upheld. We at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp understand what you are going through. We represent families going through hard times throughout Northern Arizona. Contact us if you are thinking of a divorce or legal separation and want to learn more about the division of your real estate.
What Happens to Real Property in Arizona after a Divorce or Legal Separation?
During all divorces or legal separations, property –tangible (e.g., real estate) or intangible (e.g., bank accounts) – must be divided equally in accordance with Arizona Revised Statute § 25-318. Arizona is one of only a few states that adhere to the principles of community property. Community property laws basically state that any property or assets acquired during the marriage are jointly owned by both spouses. This is true whether or not the other spouse's name is on the title. As such, community property is divided 50/50 between the spouses.
So, if your spouse's name is the only name on the title of your home, that doesn't matter: the home is yours, too. Therefore, it and any other real property must be divided equally.
To divide real property in Arizona, two basic options are available.
- The real property is sold and the profits are divided equally; or
- One spouse buys out the other spouse's interest in the house and keeps the house.
Other ways to divide the property could be conducted, too, upon agreement of the parties. If there's a prenuptial agreement, however, the court will look to this document as guidance. Prenuptial agreements can make the division of property process more efficient if properly drafted and executed.
Are There Exceptions to the Community Property Law in Arizona?
There are exceptions. Courts can consider other factors to determine if distribution of property on a 50/50 basis is inequitable or not. If it deems it to be unfair, it can allocate property in a way it deems fairer.
Also, the spouses can agree to a different formula to be employed when dividing property.
Keep in mind, too, that any non-marital property is retained by each respective spouse. Non-marital property is property acquired before the marriage. for example, one spouse may have purchased a home before the marriage and that home was used as a rental during the marriage – as such, it wasn't mixed in or somehow commingled with community property.
Contact a Resourceful Property Division Attorney in Northern Arizona
Division of property doesn't have to be as painful as you anticipate when you have the guidance and commitment of an experienced divorce attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp at (928) 753-6868today. We represent clients throughout Northern Arizona and treat you as though you are a member of our family.