Many Wyomingites work hard to leave some financial resources to their children or other heirs. If you have received an inheritance, you may think you exclusively own it. That is, you may believe your inheritance is not subject to property division during your divorce.
If you are planning to divorce your spouse, you have the option of negotiating property division. When issuing your divorce decree, the judge is likely to defer to the settlement agreement you make. If you cannot reach an agreement, though, the judge must apply principles of equity when deciding what happens to your marital estate.
Separate vs. marital property
Generally, the assets you and your spouse acquire during your marriage are part of the marital estate and subject to fair and equitable division upon divorce. By contrast, anything you had before you walked down the aisle is probably separate property you can keep. Consequently, it is critical to identify when you received your inheritance.
The use of inheritance funds
When dividing marital property, timing is only part of the equation. Even if you inherited funds before you married your spouse, how you handled the money may make your otherwise separate inheritance part of the marital estate.
For example, if you used your inheritance to renovate the house you own with your spouse, the inheritance may be a joint asset that is subject to property division during divorce.
If you did not take steps to keep your inheritance separate, you may be at risk of losing some of it. Nevertheless, even if you commingled inherited funds with the marital estate, you may have some options for securing exclusive ownership of the inheritance your loved ones left specifically to you.