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How are inheritances split in a divorce?

While in the process of a divorce, there is often a question as to how an inheritance that was obtained while in the marriage is split. There is no easy answer here, as not only do the laws vary by state, but much of it is also dependent upon where the money was placed or how it was spent.

An inheritance is initially not considered marital property and is therefore not subjected to equitable distribution. The money is considered separate property. There are ways that the money does become comingled, however. For example, if a spouse's inheritance is placed in a joint bank account, then the money is considered comingled and the money can be used for joint marital expenses and is not protected. The same is also true if the money is used for expenses that are shared among both spouses, such as a home improvement.

The same holds true for money that was obtained before a marriage. If the money is put in a joint account or used as a marital expense, it is considered comingled and is no longer separate property.

Although a few states treat property as community property where all property is divided equally, a vast majority of states, including Georgia, use equitable distribution. With equitable division, the property is divided based on what the judge considers to be equitable. This may mean that the higher wage-earner receives a higher percentage than the other spouse.

Understanding the laws when it comes to property division in a divorce can be very confusing and complicated. When dealing with such issues in a divorce, it may be in your best interest to find a strong legal family law team to help you through and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Source:, "Inheritance and Divorce," Accessed May 29, 2017

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