The Family Law Leader

Q: During my 20 year marriage, I inherited about $20,000 when my grandfather passed away. I have had this invested in a brokerage account in my name for about 10 years and it has more than doubled in value. Now my husband says he is entitled to half of that if we divorce. Is that true?

A: In most cases, assets inherited by one party during the marriage will be deemed separate property, not subject to division in the divorce. However, under certain circumstances, property brought into the marriage through inheritance can become marital property. For instance, if it is co-mingled with the marital estate, by putting it in the name of the spouse, reinvesting it so that it changes character, or using it to purchase an asset that is used or relied on by both parties, these factors can sometimes transform separate property into marital property. Separate property can also become marital if the other spouse has a role in procuring, maintaining or somehow adding to the value of the asset. Sometimes it can be difficult to sort out what assets are marital and what are separate. If you brought assets into the marriage or inherited them during the marriage, try to provide your attorney with an accurate history of how the asset was obtained, and what, if anything your spouse did to enhance its value during the marriage. Unfortunately, there is no set formula for making this determination, and if your case goes to trial, the judge will need to look at all the evidence.

For more information about property division, click here.

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