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The concept of “yours,” “mine,” and “ours” can be a point of contention in a divorce. When it comes to jointly owned property and one party’s unwillingness to allow the other access to it, it is necessary to explore your available legal options.

A perfect example is a couple that owns a business together. The husband files for divorce and refuses to allow his wife on the business premises to assess inventory and other items. The wife then questions his motives and believes he is being untruthful about the value of the on-site equipment owned by the business.

How can the wife gain access to the property?

The rules governing divorce in Arizona allow a party access to land or other premises in order to inspect, appraise, inventory, photograph, or otherwise examine the property (or objects on the property) if it serves a litigation purpose. The wife, her attorney, an expert acting on her behalf, or all three may conduct this inspection.

Many times, the parties and/or their attorneys can agree on a date and time for the inspection to occur. If they cannot, the inspection can be accomplished by providing advance written notice to the husband of the date and time on which the inspection will occur, and providing a description of what will be inspected.

What if the husband objects to the inspection request?

The husband has the opportunity to object to the inspection request. If he does, a judge will have to decide if the wife is entitled to perform the inspection. If providing advance notice will allow him to hide items or otherwise interfere with the inspection process, the wife may consider requesting that the judge in the case issue an emergency order allowing the inspection to go forward without advance notice to the husband.

At Hallier Stearns PLC, we recognize and support a spouse’s right to access to jointly-owned property. If you are in a similar situation, we can help. Contact us today to learn more.