Community Property


Once property is considered community property, it must be divided equitably between the spouses. That is why it is important to determine the characterization of the property at the beginning of the divorce. There may be arguments about whether property is community or not, but most property is fairly easy to characterize. Property includes real property, which is land or a house. Property also includes your furniture, bank accounts, savings account, investments and deferred compensation plans, such as 401Ks or IRAs.

Property for division, however, does not include Social Security benefits. Social Security law governs your Social Security account and it cannot be changed in a divorce decree. If you want to know specific information about your Social Security benefits, you might want to contact the Social Security Administration to find out about your specific income. Most property disputes revolve around houses. For some reason, many couples maintain complicated information regarding when and how a house was purchased and whose name is on the deed. It is important that you know if your name is on your house deed. You can check that on the Internet, courtesy of the Maricopa County Recorder?s Office at

Can the mediation reach a custom tailored agreement for me and my spouse?

The relaxed atmosphere of mediation allows for creative settlements that are tailored to the parties’ individualized circumstances. Mediation permits the parties, rather than the court, to control the outcome of their case. The tailored agreements typically result from both parties’ determination of how they will share their children, how they will make major decisions concerning their children, who will pay child support and how much, and how to equitably divide property and debts.

Once an agreement is reached how can I put it in writing?

Once the parties have reached a verbal agreement, Best Law Firm here in Scottsdale can draft a Memorandum of Understanding to memorialize the parties’ agreements that complies with Family Law Rule 69. We can also draft the petition and supporting documents to initiate your case in the court, as well as draft and file the consent decree, parenting plan and property settlement agreement to finalize your case. We can draft all of your documents, from start to finish.

What happens when the parties reach a verbal agreement?

Two persons cannot divorce or legally separate unless, and until, certain paperwork is filed with the court. In Arizona, Family Law Rule 69 requires parties to have a signed, written agreement for it to be binding in the court. In some cases, the parties may not need or want their agreement to be enforceable. In other situations, it is required that the agreement be filed with the court. Here in Scottsdale, Best Law Firm can assist the parties in completing all the required paperwork. We can also draft the necessary decree for your case or other paperwork, such as child support.

How does mediation help us reach agreements?

There is no coercion, and both parties must be in accord in order for there to be any agreements. Often, more than one conference may be needed to resolve all the issues. Family issues invoke a great deal of emotion, and sometimes people need time to think about the process and the decisions that need to be made. There is no rush about this process.


Some parties may be able to reach agreements on all issues in one session, while others may require multiple sessions. Additionally, the parties can meet together or individually with the mediator. For example, some parties may wish to sit together at a table with the mediator, while others may prefer to be in different rooms and have the mediator move between the parties, acting as a liaison between the parties. The latter approach helps minimize the emotion associated with meeting face-to-face and promotes progress on the individual issues. Each case is different, and our goal is to find an approach that will work best for your family.

How does the mediator help resolve issues?

The mediator, in an impartial role, will help the parties define the issues, explain the legal process in the state of Arizona and then assist the parties in finding mutual agreements. The mediator’s job is to keep the parties conversing about the issues and help them move toward agreements. To accomplish this, the mediator engages in conversation with the parties to identify issues and possible solutions. Throughout the conversation, the mediator may propose various settlement options.

How does mediation work?

First, the parties must decide that they are able to discuss and consider their issues with each other through mediation. The parties may decide to initiate a free telephone consultation with one of your attorneys. Then, the parties make an appointment and come to our office here in Scottsdale. Be aware that the proceedings are confidential, and nothing can be used in a court proceeding. The success of mediation depends on the attitudes of the parties. It begins with the understanding that each party wants to mediate and resolve their dispute in a positive and calm manner. If either party has an attitude of wanting to “win” or to “hurt” the other person, mediation most likely will not work.

The process begins with an initial meeting, usually lasting one to two hours. The mediator explains her or his role of assisting the parties in resolving their issues. Even though the mediator is an experienced family law attorney who practices law, she is not in her role as an attorney when she is a mediator. Nonetheless, her legal background helps both procedurally and substantially with the mediation process.

What is mediation?

Family law mediation is a method of resolving issues and disputes during the difficult time of divorce by talking with a mediator to resolve your disagreements. Mediation is conducted in a relaxed, comfortable office atmosphere with the mediator and the parties. Family law mediation can also be used to help persons with other legal family issues, such as separation, child custody, child support, post-decree modifications, disputes about parenting issues after a divorce, domestic partnership issues with children and property, and unmarried person issues with children and property. There are myriad issues and problems that may confront people when they are attempting to navigate the emotional terrain of family.

Here in Arizona, what is a resolution management conference?

If either party is represented by an attorney, the court will set a Resolution Management Conference from one to four months from the date of service depending upon the court’s docket. Prior to the Resolution Management Conference, both parties will receive a written notification from the court that will include the date and time for the conference. That written notification will also include requirements that must be completed prior to the conference. For example, the court will require a Resolution Management Statement. This statement outlines all the key issues in your dissolution, including child custody and parenting issues, along with financial matters. The court will also require you and the opposing party with counsel to meet with each other for one hour in person prior to the hearing. During that period of time, the parties are encouraged to see if they can settle any issues.

In Arizona, what is an early resolution conference?

There are two different conferences that the court will schedule. The conference that the court schedules will be determined on whether you or your spouse is represented by counsel. If neither you nor your spouse is represented by counsel, the court will schedule an Early Resolution Conference. If either you or your spouse is represented by counsel, the court will schedule a Resolution Management Conference.

As previously mentioned, the court will set an Early Resolution Conference anywhere from one to four months from the time the papers were served. The court will set this conference at a time that will fit in with their dockets. You will receive notification in the mail. On that order, you will also have directions ordering you to fill out a Resolution Management Statement before you arrive. If your order prescribes it, you may need to file this with the court before your conference and give a copy to the other party. When your early resolution conference is scheduled, it is important that you arrive at the correct courthouse at the correct time. You do not need to bring anything with you to the conference, unless the court requests otherwise.

At this conference, you will first meet with a court representative and the other party, if there has been no domestic violence. At that time, the court representative will talk with you and determine whether you are able to settle any issues. If you and your spouse are able to come to any settlement terms, the court representative will memorialize your agreements in writing and file them with the court. Be advised that if you do not attend your scheduled early resolution conference, you will be fined $100.00. Please refer to the information that you receive from the court, because the processes and procedures are likely to change.

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