Gilbert, AZ asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Family Law for Arizona

Q: My husband and I are residents of Arizona. What happens to our house during a divorce?

He solely purchased the house in 2007. We met in 2014. I had our oldest child in 2016. We married in 2017. He refinanced the house in 2018 or 2019 but didn't want to put me on the home loan even though my credit score is consistently in the upper 830s - 840s. Our youngest was born in 2018. This past weekend during a disagreement he pointed out twice that this is his house and not mine. Do I have any legal rights to it?

1 Lawyer Answer
Stephen M Vincent
Stephen M Vincent
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: The house belongs to him. A.R.S. 25-213(A) reads, "A spouse's real and personal property that is owned by that spouse before marriage ... and the increase, rents, issues and profits of that property, is the separate property of that spouse." As he owned before the marriage and never put your name on it, it remains his house.

You are, however, entitled to what's called a "community lien." This is meant to be a partial reimbursement of what was paid on the house during the marriage. At present, Arizona uses a calculation called the Drahos Calculation to determine the lien (the Arizona Supreme Court is reviewing this calculation at the moment, and may change course).

Here is the Drahos calculation:

C + [( C/B ) x A]

C = The community’s contributions to the principal (i.e., how much the mortgage was paid down during the marriage).

B = Purchase Price or appraised value at the time of the marriage.

A = Appreciation during the marriage.

I wrote an article on this, and while it's not a perfect fit for your situation, it may help explain what is happening here:

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