Arizona judges generally dislike having to make rulings about who gets the pots and pans. In Arizona courts, divorcing parties get very little time to present their cases. Most are allowed only two or three hours for the entire divorce trial. This means only half that time is yours to spend both on direct examination of witnesses and cross examination of witnesses (plus opening and closing statements if so desired). With such little time, you probably will not even be able to address such matters as who gets the big screen TV or who gets the bedroom set.
What most judges in Arizona divorce cases will do is order the parties to divide the household furniture, furnishings, appliances, and other items by one of three methods. The first is the “alternate pick method.” Using this method, the parties go through the house together. The first party puts a green (or whatever color) sticker on an item that he wants. The second party then puts a red (or whatever color) sticker on the item that she wants. They continue alternating in this manner in until all the household contents are divided. The second common method is the “alternate list” method. Using this method, the parties flip a coin to decide which party will make two lists.
The property on each list should be of roughly equal value. The other party then picks one of those two lists. Since the party who is making the list does not know which list the other party is going to pick, he or she has a built-in incentive to make the lists as equal in value as possible. Otherwise, the party who gets to choose which list he or she wants will obviously choose the list that contains property of much higher value. The third method that is commonly seen is the “equalization method.” Using this method, one party keeps more of the property and pays the other party half the difference in the fair market value of the property. This method is rarely used unless a proper, reliable appraisal has been done.
Otherwise, the parties will argue with each other over what the value of the property is. There are other methods of dividing the property as well, but these are the most common ones. But the best way to do this is to do it by agreement, if that is possible. It is much less common now in Arizona divorce cases to see serious fights of the contents of the marital residence, and this is probably a result of the very short amount of trial time divorcing couples are given. Whereas decades ago most divorce trials in Arizona lasted days or even weeks, they now last only a few hours in most cases. Although this is not good for divorcing couples, we must face the reality of the much more limited amount of time we now have to present our cases in court.
This is not a good development, because much injustice results from the short amount of time in which to produce evidence and testimony, but until things get better, if they ever do, the fact of the matter is that you will not have much time to fight about personal property division in your Arizona divorce case.
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