When people in Arizona decide to divorce, one of the most fraught issues can be how the marital home is dealt with. In some cases, both parties want to keep the home; in other cases, finances mean that it must be sold. There are a number of issues for people to consider when they decide how to handle the family home during a divorce. One of the first things to understand about the home is whether the couple has a large amount of equity already or only a small amount because it can help both parties determine their potential future legal and financial obligations.

In all cases, it’s important to keep in mind that the documents setting out ownership and obligation for the mortgage loan are often separate, so it is critical to deal with both during the divorce. When the house is jointly owned by both spouses, ownership can be transferred by one spouse signing a quit claim deed to the other. However, this will not affect the underlying mortgage; both parties will still be responsible.

In order for the other spouse to be removed from the mortgage, the loan must, in most cases, be refinanced. Failing to do so keeps the other spouse on the hook for the payments despite his or her lack of ownership interest, and the outstanding mortgage could block him or her from receiving a new home loan.

People who decide to divorce may decide to sell the home to pay off the mortgage and split the remaining proceeds. This can be a better choice if neither spouse is able to pay for the home alone after the split. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing spouse to provide advice and representation as they work to achieve a fair agreement on issues like property division.