Establishing Sole and Separate Property in Arizona: A Guide for Divorcing Couples

Feature Article: Understanding Sole and Separate Property in Arizona

The Complexity of Separating Property during a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times of a person's life. It's a time where everything that was once shared between two people has to be separated, including property and debt. In Arizona, community property laws state that any property or debt acquired during the time of marriage is shared equally between both parties. However, there are exceptions to this rule with regards to separate property, which makes the process of dividing assets during a divorce even more complicated.

What is Sole and Separate Property?

In Arizona, community property laws mean that most property and debts acquired during a marriage are shared equally. However, separate property, which includes any assets owned before the marriage, gifts, and inheritances, typically remains with the individual who owns it. The process of distinguishing separate property from marital assets requires careful consideration and clear evidence. Sole and separate property is any property that is solely owned by one spouse, either before or after the date of marriage. This property remains separate and is not subject to division during a divorce unless it has been commingled with marital property.

Understanding Commingled Property

Commingling occurs when separate property is mixed with community property. When this happens, it can be challenging to distinguish which property is separate and which is marital. For example, if one spouse receives an inheritance and puts the money into a joint bank account with the other spouse, the inheritance can be considered commingled and subject to division during a divorce. It's essential to keep separate property separate from community property to avoid commingling. The best way to do this is to keep separate assets in a separate account in the individual's name. It's also important to avoid using community funds to maintain or pay off separate property.

Factors to Consider When Identifying Sole and Separate Property

Identifying sole and separate property can be a complicated process, and it's essential to get professional help. There are factors to consider when identifying sole and separate property, including:


The timing of when the property was acquired plays an important role in determining whether it is separate or community property. For example, if an individual owns a property before getting married, it is considered separate property. However, if the property is acquired during the marriage, it is considered community property, even if only one husband's name is on the deed.


The intention of the spouse acquiring the property plays a significant role in determining whether it is separate or community property. For example, if an individual acquires property during the marriage but uses separate funds to purchase it and takes steps to keep it separate, it can be classified as separate property.

Use of the Property

The use of the property before, during, and after the marriage also plays an important role in determining whether it is separate or community property. For example, if a couple purchases a vacation home during the marriage but only one spouse uses it, the property can be considered separate property.


If spouses sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that identifies what property is community or separate, the agreement is legally binding in Arizona.

Gifts and Inheritances

Gifts and inheritances that are given only to one spouse are considered separate property. However, if the gift or inheritance is commingled with community property, it can be considered community property.

Business Interests

Business interests can be complicated to divide and classify in a divorce. It's essential to have an accurate valuation of the business and determine whether the business was established before the marriage. Any part of a business that was established during the marriage is generally considered community property.

Retirement Benefits and Pensions

Retirement benefits and pensions can be considered community property in a divorce, even if they were earned by only one spouse during the marriage.


It is essential to understand the complexities of separating property during a divorce. Identifying what is community or separate property can be a challenging process. Seeking professional help from a qualified attorney can ensure a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities. If you're going through a divorce or considering one, it's crucial to understand how sole and separate property is established in Arizona. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Establish Sole and Separate Property in Arizona-Sole,Community