Marital vs. separate property: What you should know

Going through a divorce in Arizona can be extremely overwhelming. Not only are you forced to negotiate the terms of your divorce, you may harbor some emotions that make it difficult to exchange property.

Arizona is an equitable division of property state, meaning the courts do not divide marital property and assets equally in half. According to Arizona state statutes, the judge determines who will receive what after carefully considering certain factors. The courts require both parties to disclose all property in their possession before going through the division process.

Marital property

Also referred to as community property, marital property includes all items amassed during the marriage. In addition to furniture, homes, vehicles and the contents of your bank account, marital property includes the following often overlooked items:

  • Income tax refunds
  • Lottery ticket winnings
  • Intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights and patents
  • Term life insurance policies, 401k plans, stock options and retirement accounts
  • Gifts exchanged between you and your spouse during the marriage
  • Memberships to exclusive country clubs and golf courses

Marital property also includes expensive collections, such as art, antiques, classic cars, jewelry and wine.

Separate property

Separate property, on the other hand, is not divided in the divorce settlement. This includes property, assets and items you accumulated before the marriage. Inheritance money or personal injury compensation can remain with you once the divorce is finalized. Other separate property includes gifts given to you by a third party.

It is important to keep those items separate from your marital property, as once they become mixed, it can relabel the property as marital. For example, if you deposit inheritance money into a joint bank account shared with your spouse, that money may become marital and eligible for division in the settlement.