It really depends on what the money was used for. If a certain amount of inherited money was put into renovating the marital residence and that process enhanced the value of the marital residence, then there’s going to be a claim to get some of that money back by the spouse who contributed it. We look at that a couple of different ways. One way to analyze it is, how much did the investment enhance the value of the family home? How much was the actual contribution? Sometimes the actual contribution exceeds the increase in value, so there may be a disagreement as to those two items.
If, on the other hand, the money is used to take a dream vacation, that really hasn’t resulted in an asset that the court has the ability to value or to apportion between the parties. That would be more in the nature of a gift to the marriage, and generally speaking, if someone uses some inherited money to go on a dream vacation, that’s on their own dime and those funds are not going to be the subject of a return of the non-marital estate.
Chuck Roberts is a family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.