Do I Need A Forfeiture of Assets Clause In My Divorce Decree?
When a couple divorces, their community property is divided equally between them. Because of this division, they must be prepared to provide a list of shared assets to their attorneys. But sometimes people may not be so honest about what they own jointly with their spouses. If you’re concerned that your spouse may try to keep you from getting what is rightly yours, you may be thinking about adding a forfeiture of assets clause to your divorce decree.
Is A Forfeiture of Assets Clause Necessary?
A forfeiture of assets clause directs the handling of marital assets that were not disclosed in the divorce decree. The reason assets may not have been uncovered aren’t always suspicious. Sometimes, people forget about an item, or they may have assumed it was not part of their community property and therefore never mentioned it. But there are occasions when a spouse simply does not want to risk the other spouse getting a certain possession or amount of money, and that spouse hides assets to keep them out of the divorce decree.
If you are involved in an especially contentious divorce, or you’re concerned your spouse would hide property from you, it might be a good idea to talk to your attorney about adding a forfeiture of assets clause to your divorce decree. The clause could direct that any assets that were hidden or undisclosed by a spouse will become the property of the other spouse. The spouse who hid the assets forfeits their right to own them or even benefit financially from selling them.
Title 25 of the Arizona Revised Statutes provides that “after discovered assets” that were undisclosed or unprovided for in a Decree will be considered equally owned by the parties. This language should appear in a Decree to reinforce the point.
Division of Property
Arizona is a community property state, which means marital property is divided equally among each spouse in a divorce. Sometimes the spouses will go through their assets and assign a monetary value to each one, but if they cannot agree, the court will either direct the parties to work out the disagreement through a conflict resolution method (mediation, using lists to alternate choices, etc.) or will order that contested items be sold.
Community property is comprised of assets purchased or obtained from the date the couple was married until the date separated Petition for Legal Separation or Dissolution is served on the respondent party. Examples of this property include the home, cars, and items within the home, like furnishings. Even if something was purchased for one spouse’s sole use – such as a car – it will still be considered marital property if it was purchased during the marriage with few exceptions – for example, if the item was purchased as a gift or using separate property funds.
Property a spouse owned before the marriage is known as separate property and is not included in the divorce. Gifts or an inheritance left to one spouse, are considered separate property that the spouse gets to keep with few exceptions. If, for example, you add your spouse to the title of a home that you owned prior to the marriage, the home becomes community property and gets divided between both of you.
How a Divorce Attorney Can Help
Dividing assets can be a particularly stressful part of your divorce. Tension is exacerbated when a spouse believes the other spouse is hiding assets. If you’re in this situation, it’s a good time to talk to your attorney about using a forfeiture of assets clause to protect your rights to half of all marital property. The attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC understand how sensitive the division of assets can be. Let us help you get through it as calmly and smoothly as possible.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Forfeiture of Assets Clause, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.