Definition of Separate Property
Separate property is property which was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, inherited during marriage, converted from community property to separate property or bought by one spouse with their separate funds. Separate property can also include property received for pain and suffering from a personal injury claim.
Consider, however, how property will be divided during a divorce will depend on whether you live in a community property or equitable distribution state. If property increases in value while you are married some states will also allow the increase to be considered the property of both spouses even if the title remains in the name of one spouse.
There are currently nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Alaska is an opt-in community property state. In these states the community property is divided equally between the spouses. The remaining states are considered equitable distribution states or separate property states. Talk to a divorce lawyer if you have questions about how your assets and debts will be divided in a divorce settlement.