Does inheritance affect separation?
You received an inheritance while you were married. Now that you’re getting divorced, your spouse claims that half of it belongs to them because it is marital property. Is this true?
Does Inheritance Affect Separation?
There are a few things you need to address when answering this question:
Did you share the inheritance?
On the whole, an inheritance is usually not going to be looked at as marital property. It is separate property, meaning that you are the only one with a claim to it. That inheritance was given directly to you, despite the fact that you were still married to your spouse, and so you may not need to give any of it to your ex in the property division process. However, this can change if you shared the inheritance with them prior to the divorce. This is often called commingling the inheritance, and it may mean that it is now actually marital property, as your ex is suggesting. There are different ways to share an inheritance.
The most obvious, of course, is allowing your spouse to buy things with the money or buying joint items, such as a new family car. But sharing could also just mean putting the money into an account that you both share. Maybe you didn’t spend any, but you took the entire inheritance and invested it with the rest of your money that you have in a portfolio. Even though your spouse didn’t withdraw any before the divorce, they may be able to claim that they could have done so and that this gives them a right to a portion of that money. If, on the other hand, you opened up a separate investment for it under your name, then you have protected that money and your right to the inheritance.
What options do you have?
You can see how complicated this may become. Depending on the size of that inheritance, it could be one of the biggest assets that you own. You absolutely must know about your options and your rights at this time. Consult with an attorney to find out your options.