Filing for a divorce is never an easy decision to make, even if it is the only recourse left under the circumstances. If you or your spouse received an inheritance during the course of the marriage, it adds another complex layer to the division of marital assets in a divorce.
Most couples don’t think about securing their inheritance assets as separate property during marriage until they find themselves in a situation where the marriage is about to end. Divorce-related property division can be difficult and confusing. An experienced divorce attorney in West Virginia can help you understand your rights and provide you with strong legal representation.
Inheritance is Considered Separate Property in WV
Inheritance money and property is usually considered separate in a divorce. In WV, all assets are divided into separate and marital property. Separate property refers to those assets that remain with the spouse owning it. By contrast, marital property is divided between the spouses. Generally, separate property is any property that is received by you or your spouse before the marriage.
Marital property refers to those assets that are obtained during the marriage. But inheritance is an exception. Inherited property is considered separate even when the inherited property is received when you were married. It’s important to understand that even though inheritances start as separate property, they don’t always remain separate.
Inheritance Can Convert to Marital Property
There are certain exceptions when inherited property gets converted to marital property. After inheriting separate property, it can get mixed with marital property. This is also known as commingling. Many spouses unintentionally commingle their inheritance and other assets during the course of the marriage.
For instance, if you inherit money from the will of a family member after they pass away, it will be considered separate property. But if you place it in a joint account where your spouse also keeps their money, it will be regarded as marital property.
Changing the nature of the separate property through transmutation is another possibility. For instance, you may inherit a house or some other property, and add your spouse’s name to the title. In this scenario, the house will be considered marital property.
Any type of inheritance can become commingled, such as jewelry, personal property, and guns among others. Inherited property can easily have a marital component to it under specific circumstances.
For instance, if you put your spouse’s name on the property, it becomes marital property. There are several other issues attached to property division during a divorce. You should speak with a skilled divorce attorney in WV to protect your legal rights.
Impact of Inheritance on a Divorce
Any inheritance you acquire once the divorce is finalized remains with you. It is considered separate property since there is no longer a legal marriage. If during the course of the divorce, your inheritance is deemed to be separate, it will remain with you. This is regardless of the manner in which any remaining property is divided.
If the inheritance is determined to be marital property, it will be distributed fairly and equitably. This means the inheritance will be divided in the same manner as the remainder of your marital estate.
Division of marital property is not always clear-cut. This is why you should have a knowledgeable divorce attorney look out for your best interests.
Determining Spousal Support if There is an Inheritance
Spousal support is a payment made by one spouse to the other for helping them maintain a similar lifestyle as the one they had during the marriage. A spousal support award in West Virginia doesn’t necessarily impact the marital property received by a spouse. However, separate property owned by the spouse may affect the alimony award.
This is because spousal support is based on individual assets and income. If the paying spouse doesn’t earn enough to make fair spousal support payments, the court can order the spouse to use their separate property to make a lump sum payment, for example. By the same token, the court may reduce the alimony payment if the recipient spouse has a large inheritance.
Our Knowledgeable Divorce Lawyers are Here to Give You the Best Legal Advice and Support. Call Now.
Divorce is an emotional situation and tensions can run high. Adding inheritance can make the situation even more difficult. The experienced attorneys at the law firm of Hardy Pence PLLC will look out for your best interests and advise you on the best way to handle your inheritance.
Schedule your free case review with our lawyers today. Call us at (304) 345-7250 or contact us online.