Skip to Content
Hildebrand Law, P.C. mobile logo

Tracing Separate Property in an AZ Divorce | Hildebrand Law, PC

Mon 8th Aug, 2016 Arizona Community Property Laws

In Arizona, courts presume that property a couple acquires during the marriage is community property. A spouse can overcome this with clear and convincing evidence. In Kingsberry v Kingsberry 379 P.2d 893 (1963), the Arizona Supreme Court addressed this issue.

Facts of the Case

Mrs. Kingsberry and Mr. Kingsberry divorced in 1963. While they were married, the husband had acquired an interest in a ranch with his father. He also acquired stock in Western Drilling Company. Wife claimed that these were community property assets. The trial court awarded them to the husband as his separate property, however, and wife appealed.

U.S. News and World Report Votes Hildebrand Law, PC Best Law Firms for 2020 2021 2022 2023

N-Bar Ranch

Husband and his father purchased the N-Bar Ranch as a partnership venture, each owning a one-half interest. The father put the deal together and used his personal money to buy the property. The deed conveyed the property interest to husband “as his sole and separate estate”.

A third party manager operated the ranch as a stock-raising business. The husband often used his separate funds to buy sheep and improve on the land. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s decision that the interest in the ranch was husband’s separate property.

Mrs. Kingberry’s name was on the mortgage, however, but only because the lender insisted on it. The fact that separate and community funds were in the same account did not make them all community funds. In this case, the husband kept careful records as to how much was his separate property.

Western Drilling Stock

Husband furthermore bought ten shares in Western States Drilling Company with his separate funds. From time to time, he loaned community money to the company. The wife argues that this “commingling” converted the stock into community property, but the Court of Appeals disagreed.

Arizona law describes what happens if the community invests money in the separate property of one spouse. The property remains separate but the community has a lien for the amount invested. In Kingsberry’s case, Western Drilling repaid all of the community loans in full. Therefore, the community could not claim a lien.


The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. This case was distinguished by the Arizona Court of Appeals in the Hanrahan v. Sims case.

If you need information about tracing separate property in an Arizona divorce, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona divorce case around today.

Contact Form

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Hildebrand Law, PC Voted Best Divorce Law Firm in Arizona in Arizona Foothills Magazine