All property owned by each spouse before marriage is the separate property of that spouse. A.R.S. § 25-213. The statutes also provide that gifts, inheritance, and income earned from rents, issues, and profits of separate property during marriage are separate property. Case law has established certain other acquisitions as separate property as well. These are:
- Purchases made with separate funds or property,
- Professional degrees and license,
- Damages or benefits for personal injuries, and
- Certain federal retirement benefits such as social security.
Personal injury recoveries are separate property, but recovery for lost wages and medical expenses are considered community property. Jurek v. Jurek, 124 Ariz. 596, 606 P.2d 812 (1980). Any property acquired by either spouse after an action for divorce, separation or annulment is filed is considered to be separate property once the action is finalized. A.R.S. § 25-213.
Confirmation of Sole and Separate Property
The court is required by law to divide all marital property. In the decree, the court shall confirm to each spouse his or her separate property. Even though the sole and separate property of each spouse belongs to them as a matter of law, it is important to have such sole and separate property confirmed to them in the Decree to reduce the possibility of future disputes.
Debts incurred by one of the parties prior to the marriage remain the sole and separate debt of that party despite the parties becoming married. Your divorce decree should indicate that the party who incurred such debts is responsible for repaying them.
Student loans are also generally held to be the sole and separate debt of the party who incurred them. Debts incurred to fund elective, cosmetic surgery, especially in close temporal proximity to the filing of a dissolution action, are routinely found to be sole and separate debts as well.