When you get married, you tie your life and finances to your spouse. If you later reach a point where divorce becomes necessary, you and your spouse will have to separate your property and lives, a complicated process that often requires litigation.
Divorcing spouses tend to focus on and argue over more valuable assets during divorce proceedings. Houses, retirement funds and businesses are often points of contention. If you received a significant inheritance during your marriage, your spouse may also want to claim some of your inheritance as their property. Will the Florida courts force you to share inherited assets in a divorce?
Under Florida law, most inherited property remains separate property
The judge presiding over your divorce has to determine what assets are marital property subject to division and which remain separate property owned solely by one spouse. Florida law helps guide the judge in this process by marking certain assets as separate property.
Your inheritance will generally be separate property in the eyes of the courts. Still, there could be some ways for your spouse to lay claim to a portion of your inheritance. If there is any commingling, your spouse could potentially try to claim part of your inheritance in the divorce.
What constitutes commingling?
When trying to determine if your ex will have any sort of claim to your inheritance, it’s important to look at how you held and use the inheritance during your marriage.
If you received a financial windfall, maintaining it in a separate account is the best form of protection. If you deposited the assets into a shared account or added your spouse as a cosigner to the account that held the inheritance funds, they may be able to claim a portion of it as marital property.
If you inherited real estate or physical assets, commingling would occur with those as well. If your spouse has physically helped maintain those assets or financially contributed toward their upkeep, that can open the door to claims of commingling as well.
If protecting your inheritance is a priority as your divorce precedes, discussing your inheritance and what you have done with it with an attorney can help you decide what steps to take next.