The house often becomes the focal point of divorces, especially when both spouses know that they have committed years of income to the equity in the home and upgrades. 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 are considering divorce, here are a few things to consider regarding your home in your divorce as an Arizona resident.
Arizona is a community property state
The judge overseeing your divorce will apply state law to your circumstances in the decisions made for your family. Community property laws require that the judge treat all assets and debts acquired during your marriage as both spouses own them. Usually, houses are in the community property category. Even if one spouse owned the home before getting married, they likely used marital assets to pay for taxes, utilities, and home maintenance. This could give the non-owner spouse a claim to at least some of the house’s value.
The house is not a win or lose the asset in your divorce
Like the limited-edition copy of your favorite movie, some property cannot get split by the courts in the divorce. While the actual house itself will not likely 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 do not order someone to split the equity, they will use the value of the home to justify designating other assets to the person who does not get the house.
Keeping the house isn’t always the way that you win in a divorce
Many people focus on the house to win the divorce and punish their ex. However, keeping the house is not 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 helpful if you have primary custody of your kids, but many other people may find that asking for their share of equity rather than the house is a good step toward emotional closure. Regardless of what approach you plan to take to the home, you will want to plan to advocate for yourself during what can be a complicated process.