Dividing property during a divorce may be among the most stressful and contentious undertakings, second perhaps only to child custody matters. Often, spouses find themselves grappling over sentimental items as well as those with the most value. Arizona's community property laws stipulate an equitable distribution of marital property, which does not always mean an even split.
You could go to court and allow the judge to decide how your marital assets will be split between you and your spouse. Many find this impersonal process leaves them with an unsatisfying settlement that is difficult to live with. More recently, couples have tried working together to arrive at a fair division of their accumulated wealth. This may seem like an impossible undertaking, but there are ways to make the process a little easier.
Tips for a smoother process
Before beginning any meetings with your spouse, obtaining the counsel of an attorney will be in your best interests. You can learn of the nuances of state laws and the hidden issues with some assets, such as tax ramifications. Armed with this knowledge and support, you will be better prepared to stand up for your rights and fight for a balance in assets and debts. Some counselors advise the following precautions:
- See the big picture instead of allowing little items to create an impasse that may mean taking your divorce to court.
- Keep your future in mind when you bargain for property, such as the family home, which may require more expense than it's worth.
- Do not attempt to protect your wealth by hiding or dissipating assets since this is illegal and may result in serious penalties against you.
- Bring your attorney with you or allow your attorney to read any agreement before you sign.
If you and your spouse are unable to work through every issue, you may consider seeking the help of a mediator. Many couples find mediation a successful way to reach agreements over the more difficult disputes that arise during negotiations.
Undoubtedly, you are dealing with many emotions at this time. You and your spouse may be harboring resentment or feelings of ill will toward one another, and the thought of sitting in the same room to negotiate the division of your assets may give rise to a desire to dig in and refuse to cooperate. However, the more open and honest you are at this time, the more likely you will arrive at a settlement that will work for you for years to come.