If you’re getting a divorce, you’re probably thinking about all of your major assets and what’s going to happen to them. As a general rule, items that you and your spouse obtained while you were married count as joint property and will need to be subjected to some sort of division.
But there are cases in which you may feel that something that you obtained while you were married should still stay with you. One common example is an inheritance. You may have been married when your parents passed away and gave you that inheritance, but you know that they wanted it to go to you. If you and your spouse get divorced, you’re fairly sure that your parents wouldn’t just want half of their money to go to your ex.
As a result, an inheritance is generally looked at as separate property. But one thing that can create some issues is if you have commingled your inheritance. This may mean that your spouse does have a right to at least some of that inheritance.
What is commingling?
Commingling your inheritance essentially means taking some steps to mix it with other assets that you own or to give your spouse access to that inheritance because it is combined with your other assets.
For example, perhaps you used the money to buy a home that both of you own. If you get divorced, you can’t claim that you should get all of that money back because it was yours initially. You turned it into a marital asset by buying the home, which your spouse now has a right to.
Another example is simply if the inheritance is kept in the same account as other assets that you both control. Maybe you just have one bank account where all of your money gets deposited when you get paid, and you simply kept the inheritance in that account as well. You may know that that money was originally given to you, but putting it into that account mixes it with the rest of the money that your family controls, and this can mean that the court rules that the entire account needs to be divided between you and your ex.
Exploring your options
If this has happened, or if you’re worried about losing significant assets for some other reason, it is very important to take the time to look into all of your legal options.