The Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis

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Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce?

Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce?

Often my clients arrive concerned for their divorce consultations and are very worried about their spouse taking an inheritance that they received during the marriage. Will my husband take a portion of this money when we divorce? Why should he? After all, if your mom left you all that she earned in her life, why should your husband walk away from the marriage with that money?

The answer to this question, as with many of the questions in divorce, is dependent entirely on the facts of the case. To analyze any divorce matter involving inheritance, the Court looks at the length of the marriage, the amount of the inheritance, the timing of the inheritance, and the treatment of the inheritance during the marriage (if already received).

Generally, if an inheritance is not vested (received or about to be received) during the marriage, it is less likely that the Court will divide it. The Court also tends to leave inheritance with the receiving party. On the other hand, if the inheritance was “woven into the fabric of the marriage,” the Court is more likely to share it between the parties. As you can see, the facts drive the result in an inheritance case. That is why it is important to gather evidence and argue the facts in favor of your intended result on this issue.

Why is this important? You want to take as much of this asset as you can at divorce. If you relied on an inheritance to enhance your retirement funds, you want to preserve as much of it as you can. If you can use this asset to help you make a fresh start, you want to take as much as you can. If there isn’t a lot of money within the marriage, you want to preserve these funds as much as possible. In a high asset divorce case, though you have other assets to divide, this asset may be the one that you want to ensure that comes to you and you only.

How do you protect yourself? Conversely, how do you argue for a portion of your spouse’s inheritance? Engage qualified counsel to examine the situation and compile the best argument possible for you to achieve success in your goals.

To analyze your individual situation, and to determine your rights to an inheritance, or to protect your inheritance, please contact me here online.

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