Getting a divorce is really about separating your lives. In many cases, you can do this outside of court by coming to a fair agreement. However, even if you create your own agreement regarding property, you still have to be sure that it follows the law. Because Arizona is a community property state, this means that you need to make sure that you divide all marital property, which could include heirlooms.
According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, any property that you acquire during your marriage becomes marital property, but inheritance and gifts do not. So, when it comes to heirlooms, it depends on the circumstances of how you got the item in question.
If you receive an heirloom during your marriage as part of an inheritance, then you have protection for the asset. It is not community property under the law because it is an inheritance. Now, if your family member gives you the heirloom ahead of time before he or she dies, it could complicate things; the court may not consider it separate property.
Something that someone gives you specifically as a gift does not become community property. If your relative gave you the heirloom as a gift and was specific that it was a gift at the time that he or she gave it to you, then it may be separate property. Generally, you will need to provide some type of proof that an asset was a gift and the intent of the person giving it was that it was a gift, which excludes it from your marital property.
Of course, if you owned the heirloom before your marriage, then it automatically is separate property and you should not have to worry about it during property division. Again, though, you will need to show proof that it was in your possession before the marriage. Our Chandler divorce attorneys can help you through this process.