What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce in Arizona?
Undoubtedly, your home holds tremendous significance as the most valuable asset you possess. Consequently, during a divorce proceeding governed by family law in Arizona, it becomes a central point of contention. In Arizona, the law designates all property acquired by spouses after marriage as communal property, necessitating a fair division of assets between the parties in the event of a divorce.
It is a well-known fact among family law attorneys that neither party is inclined to relinquish ownership of such a valuable asset unless an equivalent property is offered in exchange. However, Arizona law safeguards the equity of each homeowner, and the judge presiding over the case considers several crucial factors before making a decision.
If you find yourself entangled in a divorce case governed by Arizona law, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the following key aspects:
1. A Premarital Agreement Is Not Infallible
In recent years, the option of entering into a premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement, has gained recognition among couples. This legally binding document, typically signed before a notary public or family law attorney, establishes the ownership of assets in the event of a divorce.
However, it is important to note that a judge scrutinizes the premarital agreement meticulously and may determine that it is unenforceable under certain circumstances. According to Arizona law, a premarital agreement is considered null and void if:
One party is clearly at a disadvantage: If it is evident that one party entered into the agreement under unfair or unfavorable conditions, the agreement may not hold up in court.
Lack of free will: If one party was coerced or pressured into signing the agreement against their own volition, the document may be deemed invalid.
Lack of full disclosure: If one party did not receive complete and transparent information regarding the other party’s financial situation, including assets and wealth, the agreement may be invalidated.
Therefore, relying solely on a premarital agreement to safeguard ownership of your home in a divorce may not be a reliable strategy. It is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney who can provide expert advice and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
2. The Amount of Equity You Have in the Home Determines the Division
In certain situations, you may have acquired your home prior to the marriage. However, under Arizona law, if your spouse contributed to the mortgage payments during the marriage, the house is considered community property, even if the deed is solely in your name.
To determine the equitable division of assets, the judge will take into account the amount you paid towards the mortgage before the marriage. This calculation establishes your specific equity in the home. Consequently, during the division of assets, the judge may allocate a higher percentage of the home’s value to you based on your pre-marriage contributions.
It is important to note that the determination of asset division during a divorce can be complex, and various factors beyond mortgage payments may also be considered by the court. Seeking the guidance of an experienced family law attorney will be instrumental in ensuring that your rights and interests regarding the division of property, including your home, are protected.
3. Selling the Home Is a Highly Probable Outcome
Your Arizona family law attorney will advise you from the beginning that, in most cases, it is highly likely that you will have to sell the marital home as part of the divorce settlement. Unless the house is considered separate property, meaning it was purchased and fully paid for by you prior to the marriage, you will need to buy out your spouse’s share of the equity if you wish to retain ownership of the house.
Buying out your spouse’s share represents a significant amount of money, which may be challenging to gather within a short period of time after the divorce. Once the house is sold, the proceeds will be divided according to Arizona law, and you will have the freedom to use your portion to pay off the remaining mortgage and begin searching for a new home to purchase.
It is crucial to consult with your family law attorney to fully understand the financial implications of keeping or selling the marital home, as well as explore viable options for reaching a fair agreement during the division of assets. They can provide you with guidance on how to navigate the process effectively and make informed decisions about your future housing situation.
4. You Can Use the Home as Bargaining Chip
As previously mentioned, under family law in Arizona, assets acquired during the marriage are typically subject to division between spouses, and this includes retirement funds. A knowledgeable family law attorney can assess the value of your retirement accounts and compare it to the equity your spouse holds in the marital home.
It is important to consider the long-term implications and prioritize your financial well-being, especially for your future retirement. If you have diligently set aside sufficient funds for your golden years, it may be a prudent decision to consider giving up your current house in order to safeguard and protect your retirement assets.
By working closely with an experienced family law attorney, you can evaluate the overall financial picture and explore options that align with your long-term goals. They can provide valuable guidance and help you make informed decisions to protect your financial future during the divorce process.
A Arizona Family Legal services Can Negotiate the Best Settlement for You!
Understood. It is crucial to recognize that Arizona law does not grant individuals the authority to unilaterally determine the division of assets during a divorce. However, with the support and guidance of a proficient family law attorney, you can strive for a fair settlement that enables you to move forward with your life. If you are seeking professional assistance, we encourage you to contact our law firm to discuss your specific circumstances and receive the appropriate legal advice.