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Is my inheritance safe?

When couples divorce, often one of them will have already inherited money from their parents. The question is – should this inheritance be shared? As usual in divorce cases the answer is not straightforward!

The outcome depends on the particular circumstances of the case. No asset is excluded from the Court’s power in exercising discretion but assets can be treated differently. Inherited wealth is a financial resource and must be taken into account but it should be treated differently from the matrimonial assets and will often provide a good reason for departure from equality. The extent of departure will include consideration of length of the marriage; length of time since the inheritance received; the extent to which it has already been used to fund the parties’ standard of living and whether it has been preserved, enhanced or depleted. No formula or percentage can be used to provide the right answer.

Non-matrimonial assets such as inheritances can certainly be shared, if justified by the circumstances of the case and will usually be shared if required to meet the needs of the other party.

In circumstances where the inheritance has been received very recently and the needs of the other party are already met in full, then it may be reasonable to argue that the entire inheritance should be retained.