When it comes to a divorce or separation, one of the main issues or questions that often concern spouses involves property division. If your spouse and you have been married for many years, the chances are that you have accumulated plenty of assets during that timeframe. If you also own separate property, run your own business, or have other personal assets, you probably have questions about whether those items are subject to division during the divorce proceedings. Phoenix property division lawyer Paula J. Burnstein has been assisting Arizona residents with divorce matters for over 20 years. We understand what this process means for your future, which means that you can trust us to provide sound legal counsel and experienced representation.Arizona Property Division Laws During Divorce
Arizona is a community property state, which means that any asset that the couple acquired during the marriage is considered jointly owned by both spouses. Unlike other states with community property laws, however, Arizona does not require the spouses to divide everything equally. Instead, the court will consider whether the division is fair and whether it will be approximate to equal. If the spouses agree on how their assets should be divided, they can enter into an agreement that will be subject to court approval. It is far from probable, however, that the spouses will completely agree about how to divide each asset, especially if the divorce is contentious or if the parties were married for a substantial period of time.
Whether you and your spouse are able to settle the division of community property or the court must be involved, the process for determining how an asset should be treated is largely the same. Our property division attorney can guide Phoenix residents through each step. First, the parties or court must consider whether the asset is separate property or community property. Any property that you owned prior to the marriage remains your separate property, as long as you can provide documentation showing that it was your separate property. There are some categories of assets that will also be considered separate property even if they were acquired during the marriage, such as an inheritance given solely to one of the spouses. Whether or not an asset is separate property can become very complicated, especially in situations in which the non-owning spouse contributed financial payments toward the separate property asset, or in which the parties commingled their assets.
After categorizing an asset as separate or community property, the parties must agree on the asset's value. The court may need to intervene here and use fair market value estimates to assign a value to the property. This may also require assistance from an experienced appraiser. If there is a serious dispute about the value of the assets, both parties may be permitted to hire an appraiser, and the court will serve as a tiebreaker. A Phoenix property division attorney can help you navigate the nuances of this process. When it comes to some assets like retirement accounts or investments, this determination can become especially complex.
After assigning a value to the asset, the spouses or court must determine how the asset should be assigned or divided. A spouse can buy out the other spouse's share in an asset, or they can agree to swap out their interest in one asset for complete ownership of another asset that the couple owns jointly.Schedule a Free Consultation with a Property Division Lawyer in the Phoenix Area
Divorces and separations can be stressful, even if the spouses agree on most of the terms. Not only are you dealing with the mental and emotional impact of closing this chapter of your life, but also you are likely coping with many logistical issues. We represent people throughout Maricopa and Yavapai Counties, including in Peoria, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe, Laveen, Litchfield Park, New River, Sun City, Sun City West, Prescott, and Prescott Valley. In addition to handling property division, we also can assist you with alimony and other financial matters involved in a divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call us now at 623-486-9797 or contact us online to get started.