The divorce process is largely focused on dividing up assets. Many couples have purchased or otherwise acquired a lot of valuable assets while married, and they need to know how to split them up when the marriage ends.
But does that really mean dividing everything? Say that your parents left you an inheritance a few years ago, and it’s a significant part of your overall wealth. Ideally, you’d like to save it to retire. But do you have to give part of that inheritance to your ex when you get divorced?
Initially, an inheritance will generally be separate property
When you first get it, your inheritance likely belongs to you and not to both you and your spouse. It’s separate property. It was intended for you and you do not have to share it with your spouse — either while you’re married or when you get divorced. They have no claim to family money that your parents left to you.
However, if you do end up sharing some of that money with your spouse — using it to buy a house, for instance, or sharing it via a joint investment or banking account — then you may remove that restriction. This is called commingling the inheritance. It means it was mixed with all of the other assets that you own, that you do have to divide, and so the inheritance may become marital property.
Is your divorce growing complex?
Determining the status of your assets in a high-net-worth divorce can be complicated. Make sure you are well aware of your legal options and all of the steps you’ll need to take to get through this process.