Who Gets the House in a Divorce in Arizona?

Who Gets the House in a Divorce in Arizona?A house is a major asset that becomes a highly contentious topic during divorce. Since Arizona is a community property state, the court normally divides marital assets equally between the divorcing spouses. But what many people want to know is: “How will our house be divided during divorce?” Some also ask: “How does the court decide who gets to keep the house?”

In an Arizona divorce, there are several ways to allocate the marital home or determine which spouse keeps it. If you need legal guidance for your specific situation, don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced divorce attorney.

Key Question in Dividing the House: Is it Community Property?

The very first step in property division in Arizona is determining whether the asset is separate property or community property.

Separate property is any asset that belongs solely to either spouse and cannot be divided during divorce. These are usually assets that the person acquired before marriage or received as inheritance. Meanwhile, community property, also known as marital property, are those assets that either spouse acquired during the marriage. These are eligible for division.

For some couples, it can be easy to determine whether the house they live in is community property or separate property. If one spouse bought the residence before the wedding and the other spouse did not contribute to it, it is likely the separate property of the buying spouse. That sole owner will keep the property upon divorce. Conversely, if the couple bought the home together after their wedding, it is their community property and will be divided equally.

In many cases, however, the status of the house is not as clear. For instance, one spouse may have purchased the home before the marriage, but the other spouse later contributed to payments. Or, the other spouse’s name may have been added to the deed during the course of the marriage. In these cases, the divorcing couple will need the help of a competent divorce lawyer to define their rights to the home.

How is a House Divided in an Arizona Divorce?

An ideal way to divide communal property during divorce is for the spouses themselves to discuss and agree on property division. When it comes to allocating the home, the couple may agree on any of these options:

  • One spouse buys out the house. If one party wants to keep the property and the other party agrees, the party who is keeping it must buy out the other’s share of the equity. They must then refinance the property solely under the name of the spouse who is keeping it (in other words, remove the name of the non-staying spouse from the mortgage).
  • Both spouses sell the house. If both parties agree to sell the house, they can split the proceeds in a way that they both find fair.

However, not all divorcing couples can come to an agreement on what to do with their property. If the spouses can’t agree between themselves, the matter of property division will go to trial, where it will be up to the judge to decide.

Most often, Arizona judges order the house to be sold and the proceeds be divided equally between the spouses. If selling the house is not appropriate (for example, if the custodial parent and their children need the home), the judge may order that one party keep the house but in return give an equitable amount of cash or other assets to the other party.

How does Arizona Decide Which Spouse Keeps the House?

When the court has to determine who gets to keep the house in a divorce, it will examine various factors such as:

  • Who purchased the property
  • Whose funds were used to purchase the property/pay the mortgage
  • Whether one spouse is willing to give up other assets to keep the home
  • Whether one spouse is open to accept other assets in exchange for the home
  • Whether the couple’s children (if any) would benefit from living in the residence
  • Whether one spouse has recklessly wasted community money or incurred community debt.

When the division of the house is contested in court, spouses must prepare for an antagonistic process where their rights and interests are at stake. It’s wise to have the advice and representation of an attorney who has successfully handled property division disputes in court.

Call a Property Division Attorney in Arizona 

The top-rated divorce attorneys at Goldman Law are skilled at untangling property division disputes. With over 25 years of combined experience, their legal service has led to favorable outcomes for their clients, even in the most complex divorce situations. Consult with Goldman Law about your concern regarding your marital home or property. Call us at (602) 698-5520 for a consultation.