Part of divorce involves the division of marital property between the two parties. The law distinguishes marital property the couple shares from separate assets belonging to an individual.
In general, inheritances are separate property and are not subject to property division. However, depending on your circumstances, you could have to split your inherited property with the person you are divorcing.
Inheritance as marital property
Your actions can transform a separate inheritance into shared, marital property. For instance, if your parents leave you their house, putting your spouse’s name on the deed shows that you consider it marital property. A family home you bought with inherited money is a shared asset, too. Similarly, if you deposit money you inherited into a joint bank account, that portion of your inheritance now belongs to both of you. You cannot easily claim inherited property as separate if you previously took steps to share it with your spouse.
Inheritance of property after divorce
If you inherit property after a divorce, it belongs exclusively to you. Nevertheless, a large inheritance can significantly boost your net worth. This means your former spouse can seek changes regarding alimony and child support. If you receive funds, your ex could argue that you now need less money. On the other hand, your former spouse could try to obtain more support from you after your inheritance. You can include provisions that specify conditions for modification in your divorce settlement agreement.
Understanding the difference between shared and separate property in a divorce can help you divide your assets fairly and protect your inheritance.