When you marry your spouse, you agree to combine your life and your household with them. Unless you negotiate a thorough prenuptial agreement during your engagement, your future property acquisitions and personal income will become community property that you must share with your spouse during the divorce process.
However, there are typically three kinds of assets that you can claim as your separate property during the divorce. Any assets that the courts agree are your separate property will not be subject to division unless your spouse can prove that you commingled those assets with marital property.
What resources can you protect for yourself as separate property in an Arizona divorce?
Assets and income from before the marriage
What you owned and earned before you got married doesn’t automatically belong to your spouse. Savings that you accumulated prior to marriage and other property you already owned at the time of your wedding will usually remain your separate property in a divorce.
Commingling can be a real risk, especially when it comes to real property and financial accounts. If you gave your spouse control over separate assets or deposited them into a shared account, you may have a harder time establishing them as your separate property.
Gifts and inherited property
Do your parents tend to give very generous birthday presents every year? Did you inherit thousands of dollars or a family business from your grandfather?
Even if you received those gifts or your inheritance during your marriage, your spouse will typically not have any right to claim gifted or inherited property if you maintain it separately from your marital assets.
Certain proceeds from a personal injury claim
If you got hurt in a car crash or an assault at your place of employment, you may have brought a lawsuit against a drunk driver or a violent individual. The pain and suffering proceeds granted to you by the civil courts will typically remain your separate property even if the injury and losses took place during the marriage.
The actual rules that apply to property division can be a bit more complex, which is why those with resources to protect often higher a lawyer to help them review their assets and plan for court proceedings. Learning more about Arizona property division rules will help those preparing for litigation or divorce negotiations with a spouse.