A few years ago, you received an inheritance from your grandfather. The behest was to you alone, not you and your spouse. Now, you are about to divorce that spouse and are alarmed to learn that they are asking for some of that inheritance.
They can’t do that, can they? After all, it was your separate property, right?
The dangers of commingling separate and marital property
Unfortunately, if you commingled the inheritance funds with your marital assets, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may indeed be entitled to a portion of your inheritance. What may surprise you is how easy it is to commingle those funds in the first place.
What is commingling?
Any act of joining the separate funds of one partner with the shared marital assets commingles the funds. Below are some scenarios where commingling frequently occurs:
- You deposited a portion of the inheritance into your shared bank account. We get it — you were just trying to keep a check from bouncing or wanted to pay off some marital bills. But what you legally did by commingling was open the door to at least a portion of your inheritance being awarded in a divorce to your spouse.
- Your spouse paid a mortgage payment for property titled in only your name. You were running short before payday and they offered to cover the note this once. Bingo! Commingling just occurred.
Your family law attorney can protect your separate property
When you retain your divorce attorney, make sure that you make them aware of the separately owned assets that you possess. That way, they can petition the court to rule those assets are your alone and not subject to be divided in the divorce.