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Preparing to purchase the marital home during a divorce

For couples ending a marriage in Arizona, the biggest asset is often the family home. Whether it's emotional attachments, children or other considerations, there are many reasons why a soon-to-be-ex would want to fully purchase the marital home from their spouse. When this is the case, the buying spouse is often advised to determine if the move is financially feasible.

A commonly recommended first step is for a spouse looking to buy the marital home to determine how much equity -- defined as the home's net value minus any existing debts or obligations -- they have in it. This can be done with an assessment from an impartial appraiser, a broker price opinion initiated by a real estate agent professional or a comparative market analysis based on sales of comparable properties in the area.

How much the other spouse is owed for the home will be partially based on how marital property is divided. Arizona is a community property state, so this split is 50/50. This means the purchasing spouse will owe the other spouse half the equity of the home. In some situations, improvements or other investments in the home paid for with separate assets may be subtracted from the value of the home before it's split among divorcing spouses. The size of the mortgage a spouse would need to solely own the home will depend on if they have addition assets available to help fund the purchase.

If the home-buying spouse wishes to refinance the property in their name only, a family law attorney may recommend considering a cash-out refinance, which is done prior to the divorce settlement. Getting this issue out of the way early could also remove a common source of contention that sometimes complicates the negotiation process. Another option is a rate-and-term refinance that's done in accordance with the settlement agreement.

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