Dividing assets during a divorce is very important and can be complicated. This is especially true with complex and high value assets, such as an inheritance.
For instance, your parents may have left you that inheritance years ago. It’s enough money for you to retire on, and you were planning to use it that way. But now that you’re getting divorced, your spouse is claiming that they should get half of the inheritance. After all, they were also planning to retire on it and they don’t want to lose out on that. Do you have to split it with them?
Was the inheritance commingled?
Some of this is going to depend on what you did with your inheritance. As noted above, you may have simply decided to save it. If you opened your own account and deposited that money, leaving it there from the day you got it until now, it likely is not marital property. It is separate property. This means that you do not have to split it with your spouse and you get to keep the entire sum.
However, mixing the inheritance with other marital funds is called commingling. This can be done in a few different ways. One way is simply to deposit the money into a joint account. This would theoretically give your spouse access to the money during the marriage, and they can use this access to claim that they should be entitled to at least a portion of it.
Commingling can also happen when you buy joint items with the money. For instance, someone who used their inheritance money to buy a family home probably could not claim that they alone should get the home in the divorce. That house was owned by both individuals, meaning that they both had equal access to the inheritance at that point.
Working through a complicated situation
It’s likely that you and your spouse simply aren’t going to see this the same way and may tell a very different story about what happened with the money. When things get this complicated, make sure you are well aware of all of your legal options.