Property Settlements

A property settlement is the division of property and debts of the parties when they get a divorce or legal separation. The property settlement also generally includes any support to be paid for spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support.

In Arizona, generally all community or joint property and debts are equally divided. Separate property or debts are awarded to the spouse who owns them. A property settlement should be very detailed and specific about all of the property and debts, even the separate property and debts. This avoids confusion about the property and debts in the future and prevents going back to Court to resolve such disputes.

In order to be sure that a property settlement is fair and equitable, all of the property and debts need to be identified. Also the value of the property or the amount of the debt must be determined. Then options for dividing the assets and debts can be considered. Property can be sold or awarded to one party. Debts can be paid off or assumed by one party. Each asset and debt has to be considered and included. Also the interaction of assets and debts needs to be considered.

Retirement assets and benefits are an area of special concern. Since these often will not be paid until some time in the future, care must be taken to correctly secure the assets with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, if necessary. The future payments may also have an impact on financial support issues as well.

Finally, it is possible for one person to receive more of the property and to pay the other in cash over time. If this option is considered, special issues arise as to how to secure or guarantee that the payments are made.

Again, care must be taken to identify all assets and debts, and not to overlook any that exist. Care must also be taken to determine what are community and what are separate assets and debts. Finally, the property settlement agreement needs to be clear and complete so that there are no future disputes about the division that could result in having to go to Court or to lawyers for clarification.

For more information or to make an initial appointment, call our office: (520) 885-9301.