Family Law on the Navajo Nation: How is Property Divided in a Divorce?
Divorce on the Navajo Nation: How is Property and Debt Divided in a Divorce
What is community property?
Community Property is property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage. It doesn’t matter whose name the property is in; if it was acquired after the marriage began, it’s community property. But it does not include property a spouse acquired through inheritance or gift, so long as the inheritance or gift has been kept separate (as in a separate bank account). Examples of community property are bank accounts, retirement benefits, ceremonial items, grazing permits, livestock houses, vehicles, etc.
What is separate property?
Separate property is property that a spouse owned or claimed before the marriage began. It can also be property that a spouse acquires through inheritance or gift during the marriage which is kept separate. In addition, all property accumulated or earned by the wife and the minor children in her custody while she lives separately from her husband is considered her separate property.
What about debt?
Debts that were incurred during the marriage are considered “community debts.” These could be such things as credit card debts, loans, bills, etc. It is important to remember that these debts are part of the property division in a divorce. It doesn’t matter whose name the debts are in; if they were incurred after the marriage began, they are a community debt.
How does the court divide up the debts and property in the divorce?
The court first looks to see whether the property/debts are community property/debts or separate property/debts. Then, a court will decide how to divide up the community property and debts. The Navajo Nation Code requires a court to provide a “fair and just settlement of property rights between the parties.” This “fair and just” standard may, but does not necessarily mean, that property is divided equally. The court must look at all of the facts in a case and consider a number of factors:
- Reasonable current market value of each major piece of community property/debt
- Length of the marriage
- Economic circumstances of each spouse (age, health, work/social position, amount/sources of income, vocational skills or need for re-training, employability, opportunities to acquire assets and income in the future)
- Each spouse’s separate property and its value
- Needs of the parties
- Liabilities (debts) of the parties
- Contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or the contribution of each spouse to the family
- Who will have custody of the children, and the needs of the children
- Efforts of each spouse in contributing to the family unit and in obtaining or wasting community property
- Considerations of traditional and customary Navajo law
- All other relevant facts.
What proof do we need to have to divide up property/debts in a divorce?
The key is that the court must know the value of the property and debts in order to make a fair and just settlement. It is best if you have receipts and proof of the value of the property, and copies of statements about the debts. You need to be able to present the information to the court in an organized way. When you meet with an attorney or Tribal Court Advocate to discuss how to get a divorce, bring with you important documents relating to property and debts. Getting a copy of your credit report is smart, because it will list all of the debts with current amounts owed.
What if we can agree on how to divide up the property/debts?
I haven't seen or spoken with my husband in 8 years. I think he still lives in New Jersy but am not sure. I've lived in Arizona for 7 1/2 years and want a divorce. We have no children, no property, no finances, NOTHING to divide between us. How do I go about getting this done in the cheapest, most efficient way possible?
My husband has said that he filed for divorce but I don't want it. Is there some way that it could go through even if I don't agree to it or if I don't sign the divorce papers.
I filed for divorce 6yrs ago paid all that money and they say i am still married. My Husband has moved back to morrocco and i dont know how to find him. havent seen him in 6yrs how do i get a divorce from him if i cant find him?
Our divorce was granted 09/26/06. As part of the agreement, I was supposed to pay my husband $35,000 to buy him out of a rental house we co-own with my parents. He refuses to take the money and I am at a loss as to what to do. He now says he wants the house, but has done nothing to procure financing to buy out me and my parents. Do I go to court and petition them to enforce the court order or do I sue him for non-compliance? The property agreement was "not-merged" and I have been advised to sue. How do I do that?
How can we separate finances during our sepatation? I want to buy a house of my own with out obligating him or puting myself at risk of it being considered community property. He has moved out and our home is up for sale.
I am a homemaker and I found out my husband of 9 years cheated on me. When confronted he left and has not been back, . We do not own our house but he has abandoned me and everything else leaving me with no vehicle, no money, and also cleaned out our bank account. What are my legal rights and where can I get help when I have no money for one?
How do I know if my marriage is a covenant marriage?
If I have not live or been supported by ex-husband who has been living domestically with another woman for over 20 years, does it help in my filing for divorce so I can proceed forward with another man?
My husband and I have been married for 19 years. Common Law for 4 years and 14 years Legally Married (State of NM). We have been separated for 3 months, if I decided to divorce my husband my reason is "Adultery". We have a State Marriage Licence and we married in Navajo Nation Court. Do I file with the State of New Mexico or Navajo Nation. We have 2 children therefore child support will be filed. And can I charge my husband and his companion with "Adultery"?
How is spousal support(alimony)figured?
- Please select your county of residence below.
State Bar of Arizona
Maricopa County Bar
Referral number 602-257-4434
Pima County Bar
Referral number 520-623-4625
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
Certified Legal Document Preparer Program