Quick Tips: Divorce and Property Issues

Cindy Best

In divorce, the division of property can result in some of the ugliest battles between the parties. Why wouldn’t it? You are discussing all the material items that make up your marriage, after all. And these items both have large monetary value, and deep sentimental significance. So how does one prepare for such a high stake, pitched battle?


1. Know the Opposing Party’s Interests and Your Own

Fully understanding your own position and your ex-spouse’s may seem like a commonsense tip, but many divorcees simply flounder here. Many divorcees do not take a full account of all their property and will end up bewildered when long-forgot-about assets are brought up. Do not allow yourself to be surprised.

A great first step is to categorize this information into four categories: (1) what property do you ‘want’, (2) what property can you do without, (3) what property you believe the opposing party wants, and (4) what property you believe the opposing party does not want. Having this information well-thought-out and documented will help you begin the negotiation process. This will also aid you in meeting your Rule 49 obligation: to disclose ALL the relevant property! A failure to meet this obligation leaves a bad impression, and the courts will not be happy. Do not allow for that impression to be made! Instead, show the court that you are a pro-active and mature litigant that demonstrates responsibility.


2. Is the Toaster Worth It?

At the end of a divorce, you will want to simply divide community property equally. According to Arizonan law, generally anything that a married couple accumulates during the marriage is considered community property. Yet other property can be considered “sole and separate”, meaning that it wholly belongs to one party and does not need to be divided. Of course, understanding the “character” of your property is extremely important!

If the property in question is characterized as “community property”, one of the simplest resolutions is to sell the property and to split the proceeds equally. Often, this can be the preferred method for splitting community property with a high-dollar value, such as the marital residence. But if you don’t want to sell the property, do not be afraid to simply talk and work it out with the opposing party. In fact, this settlement method is preferred for property that doesn’t have a high-dollar value. Think used furniture or sentimental items.

But bottom-line, know that community property, if left to the court, will be divided by having the property sold and the funds split. It is only in unusual and compelling situations that a court would settle a community property issue in some other way.


3. Be Prepared for the Ugly

No matter what, divorces at the end of the day are contentious and stressful (to say the least). And the tension around the settlement of property is likely to maximize those horrible feelings. The trick is to accept reality, and to proactively address how you feel.

Have your support outlets available and explore plans to help relieve the angst that is always a part of family law. Surround yourself with the friends and family that truly care about you. Do not allow yourself to bottle-up those feelings, and inadvertently explode during a settlement conference! Instead, live the life that allows you to remain in control during those situations. And when-in-doubt, know that your lawyer is always there for you. Do not be afraid to share how you are feeling.

Moreover, do not let the past influence the outcome of your divorce now. Your divorce, at this point, is strictly business. Permitting your emotions to dictate the settlement of property will end badly for you! The key is to be always in-touch with how the judicial officer will be perceiving you.


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