Property that is acquired during the marriage, by gift or inheritance by a third-party is nonmarital property. The problem that usually occurs is that the gift or inheritance is commingled with marital property so that you can no longer directly trace it to the nonmarital source. For example if a spouse inherits money and deposits money into the joint family account or into some other account, and then deposits his or her pay to that account, it is impossible to directly trace a dollar of the inherited money from a dollar of the marital funds.
In that event all of the funds become marital due to commingling. The reality is that most people don’t live their married lives planning for a divorce. So the best way to preserve the nonmarital property is to have the parties sign a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Vince Wills and Christina DeVault are divorce attorneys from Maryland. A Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Vince has co-authored numerous published articles on family law topics. Super Lawyers has named him as a top attorney for Maryland and the Washington Metropolitan area. Christina’s practice includes representing clients at all stages of family law, helping her clients make important decisions with confidence.