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What happens to your inheritance during a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Family Law

When your parents passed away, they left you their remaining wealth as an inheritance. You were already married, but it was clear to you that your parents meant for this money to go to you. After all, they would want it to stay within the family.

Now your spouse has asked for a divorce. They claim that the inheritance is a marital asset and that you have to split it with them. Are they correct, or do you get to keep the inheritance that your parents gave you?

An inheritance usually begins as a separate asset

Typically, courts will look at an inheritance as a separate asset and not a marital asset. This would mean that you do get to keep the inheritance and it is not subject to property division. Your spouse does not have a right to it because it is a gift that was given directly to you, not to both of you as a couple. It’s also not something that you purchased using marital assets, such as your earnings.

When this can get tricky is if you have commingled your inheritance. Perhaps you have mixed it into other investments or bank accounts that you and your spouse both have access to. Maybe you used it to buy a family home or some other sort of tangible asset that you own together. Commingling your inheritance can make it into a marital asset, which would mean that it has to be split. But this is not usually the default position.

Navigating a complicated situation.

If you and your spouse disagree about financial issues, it can certainly make your divorce more complicated. That’s when it’s so important to know about all of the legal options at your disposal.