The house often becomes the focal point of contention in divorces. Both spouses know that they have committed years of income to the equity in the home and upgrades to the property. Some people worry about losing a house that they have an emotional attachment to, while others focus more on the financial consequences of an unfavorable court ruling.
If you find yourself considering divorce as a resident of Arizona, there are three important facts that you will want to know when it comes to your home in your divorce.
Arizona is a community property state
The judge presiding over your divorce will apply state law to your circumstances in all the decisions they make for your family. Community property laws mandate that the judge treat all assets and debts acquired during your marriage as jointly owned by both spouses.
Typically, houses fall into the category of community property. Even if one spouse owned the home prior to marriage, they likely used marital assets to pay for taxes, utilities and the upkeep of the home. That could constitute commingling in the eyes of the court and give the non-owner spouse a claim to at least some of the house’s value.
The house is not a win or lose asset in your divorce
Some property, like the limited edition copy of your favorite movie, can’t really get split by the courts in the divorce. While the actual house itself isn’t likely going to wind up divided, your equity in it most probably will.
The courts can order that one spouse retains the property, but they will likely have to refinance it and pay some of the accrued equity to their ex. If the courts don’t order someone to split the equity, they will use the value of the home to justify designating other assets to the person who doesn’t get the house.
Keeping the house isn’t always the way that you win in a divorce
Many people focus on the house as a way to win the divorce and punish their ex. However, keeping the house isn’t always the best solution. You will be living in a space where you have memories with your ex and dealing with the same community that you did when you were married, which can be a lot of baggage.
Staying in the family home can be beneficial if you have primary custody of your kids, but many other people may find that asking for their share of equity rather than the home is a good step toward emotional closure. Regardless of what approach you plan to take to the home, you will want to plan ahead to advocate for yourself during what can be a difficult process.