You have worked hard your entire professional life to build up your assets and prepare yourself for your retirement. Now you find yourself with a rapidly approaching divorce. Among the many concerns you may have on your mind, you are likely wondering how the divorce court will divide your assets with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and what you can do to prepare for it.
Asset division does not necessarily have to be done by the court and imposed on you. You and your spouse have the opportunity to make your own separation agreement. You can hire a mediator, and you can both hire your own attorneys to negotiate on your behalf.
If you and your spouse are able to negotiate a separation agreement that includes how you want to divide your property, you can submit that agreement to the court. The judge will look over your agreement to determine if it is reasonably fair, and either approve and adopt it or ask you to make revisions to it.
When courts divide property
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on how to divide property, then the court will follow Arizona’s community property principles when determining how to divide the assets. This means that marital property is often divided equally between the two spouses. Marital property includes assets that either of you received while you were married, with a few exceptions.
You will each get to keep your separate property. In general, separate property is anything that you had before you got married. Separate property can also be things such as inheritances and gifts. Under certain circumstances, your property can become marital property even if you owned it before getting married, such as when it is mixed with property that your spouse uses as well.
There’s no way to know for sure exactly how a divorce court will rule on property division. It is nice to know that you have the option of negotiating your own agreement with your spouse so that you do not have to litigate the matter in court.