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Can your spouse take part of your inheritance in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2020 | Complex Property Division

Combining finances is a big part of sharing your life with a spouse. Separating your finances often turns out to be one of the biggest challenges in getting a divorce. You and your ex probably have very different ideas about what a fair divorce outcome would look like for your family.

Especially if you have property that belongs to you and not your spouse, such as an inheritance you received from your parents, you likely don’t want to share that property with your spouse as part of a divorce. Protecting your financial future, including keeping some of your personal property out of the community pot during the divorce, is often key to a successful divorce and easier rebuilding afterward. Can you protect your inheritance from claims by your spouse in a Kentucky divorce?

The Kentucky family courts typically treat inheritances as separate property

Most everything that you earn or purchase during your marriage will become marital property that the courts can divide under the equitable distribution standard in the event of a divorce. A judge will try to fairly split up your property based on the unique factors of your marriage.

However, certain property is exempt from division because it is separate property owned solely by one spouse. In theory, some property remains yours outright even after you get married or if you acquire it during the marriage.

Items you owned prior to marriage and gifts are usually separate property. Any inheritance or bequest is also separate property in a divorce. That means that in most cases, your spouse will not have a valid legal claim to a share of your inheritance in divorce proceedings.

When is your inheritance possibly vulnerable?

Although most inherited property remains separate in a divorce, there are situations where your spouse might be able to claim it. If you have commingled your inheritance by depositing it into a shared bank account or have given your spouse access to and control over the inheritance, they may be able to claim it as marital property.

Reviewing your inheritance and your management of it with the lawyer can help you determine if inherited assets are vulnerable to division your pending divorce.