Unless there is a very good reason, the Family Court must divide community assets equally in a divorce. Other than that, however, the court has lots of leeway in deciding exactly how to divide them up. In the past, some judges have delayed the sale or award of a marital home while the children are minors. A recent Arizona court has changed all that.
Yes. But, they are few and far between. Absent compelling circumstance, Arizona courts must divide community property equally. Equal division is the law. But it doesn’t require a chiseled cut. The ragged edge of a chainsaw will do as long as justice is achieved.
Not without agreement of your spouse. A recent Arizona case makes it clear that a family court must actually divide the community property at the time of the divorce. It cannot require the former spouses to hold the property jointly until a later date, absent their agreement. That’s because when a divorce decree is entered, each person receives an immediate, present and vested separate property interest in the property awarded to them by the trial court.
The court may consider the children’s interests when it divides property and this includes the award of the marital home. However, in doing so, the court may not adversely affect the other spouse’s interest. Rather, the court must put a value on the property and order that the receiving spouse pay the other person his or her 50% share.
The short answer is No. The court can award it to one party and give the other party equivalent value in other assets. But if there is a contentious battle over its value, the court could allow a bidding war between the spouses or order it to be sold. In the case of a buy-out, the court will not discount the value because no closing costs or commissions will actually be incurred.
Deeding the property to your spouse will not relieve you of the underlying mortgage–only the lender can do this, which usually requires refinancing by the owner spouse. So make sure you ask the Court to set a deadline for your spouse to refinance at his or her sole cost. If the deadline is not met, ask the Court to order that it be sold.
Yes. Division of community assets and obligations can be a bit tricky. While taxes are not triggered because of the divorce itself, down the road, the owning party may experience tax consequences down the road when he or she sells it. So it is important to keep your eye on the future tax consequences in the event of sale of property. Business values are another issue that has a lot of gray area it. Changes in values of assets after the divorce is filed and the proper division of retirement assets are other issues. Suffice it to say, that there are lots of potential issues when it comes to dividing assets and obligations. To find out more check out the article “What’s All the Fuss? – Why Can’t Divorcing Spouses Just Divide Community Assets Equally?”
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