Inheritance is not automatically included in the pot of assets to be divided on divorce. However, depending upon your circumstances, it can be taken into account.
Assets are either:
- matrimonial assets - money and property you or your ex acquired during your marriage
- non-matrimonial assets - money and property you or your ex acquired either before or after our marriage
Matrimonial assets - such as the family home - automatically go into the pot of assets to be divided. Non-matrimonial assets - such as an inheritance - do not automatically go in. It may be possible to exclude them completely from the financial arrangement you and your ex agree. However, if the matrimonial assets are not enough to provide for both your needs then the court will take the non-matrimonial assets into account too.
If you received an inheritance during your marriage, the court will look to see how that inheritance was used during the marriage before making a decision. For example, if it was money held in a joint account that the whole family benefited from, the court may decide it was joint property and should be divided between you and your ex.
If you received an inheritance before you married and you want to protect it in the event of a divorce, consider a pre- or post-nuptial agreement.
Dealing with non-matrimonial assets is always more complicated and necessitates specialist advice. Whether you need someone to explain the legal and practical realities, to present an argument skillfully in negotiations or successfully attack or defend non-matrimonial assets in court, we have the experience and knowledge to advise and support you.
We have recently:
- acted for a client in a multi-million pound divorce where the vast majority of the wealth had been inherited by our client before the marriage
- advised a farming family on divorce, where the family business and property had been inherited and a key concern was to enable the farm to be passed down to future generations
- drafted a pre-nuptial agreement which protects our client's multi-million pound future inheritance