Your inheritance was given to you by your parents. This happened long before you got married. Your parents never even met your future spouse.
But now that spouse is asking you for a divorce. You’re worried that you’re going to have to give some of that inheritance to them. After all, you have to divide all the other marital assets that you own. Do you get to keep your inheritance are you going to lose some of it?
Was it commingled already?
If you already shared the inheritance with your spouse, then they may have a claim to it. Even if they just had access to it through a shared bank account or a shared investment account, that could be enough to give them some right to claim that they were also an owner of that inheritance. This is known as commingling your funds. When the inheritance is mixed with other marital property, then it too can become marital property.
But maybe you never used the inheritance. You’re certainly not ready to retire and that’s what you’re wanting to save the money for. You just set it aside in an account that only you have access to and didn’t think about it again until your spouse filed for divorce.
In a case like that, then your inheritance has not been commingled. It is likely that it will be viewed as separate property. This means that no division is necessary and you get to keep the entire fund. You and the court both understand that your parents meant for that money to go to you all along.
A complicated situation
This can get complicated, especially if you claim that the inheritance shouldn’t have to be divided and your spouse claims that it was actually commingled and you need to share it. You may need a lot of documentation to prove that the money should stay with you, and this can be time-consuming. But there’s a lot at stake, so make sure you know about all the legal options at your disposal.