The following circumstances generally must apply for you to keep your inheritance:
1) You received the inheritance; it was not left to both you and your spouse.
2) You did not deposit it into a joint bank account.
3) You did not use it to pay joint expenses.
4) You did not use it to improve marital property.
How the Court Divides Property
Any Oklahoma divorce settlement agreement must be equitable under state law. This means that marital assets are divided according to what is fair and just, rather than what is equal.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your marital assets, the court will make that decision for you. An exception will apply if there is a valid antenuptial, also known as a prenuptial, agreement that dictates how the assets will be divided.
When deciding how to do that, the Tulsa divorce court will make a distinction between personal property and marital assets. Separate personal property that was kept separate during the marriage is generally not included in marital assets and will not be divided.
Commingling and Transmutation of Assets
Commingling means to blend. If you commingle your separate personal assets with your marital property, it may become a marital asset and may be subject to division in an Oklahoma divorce settlement agreement.
For example, adding your spouse’s name to your bank account that your inheritance is deposited in and using those funds to support the marriage.
Transmutation is the act of changing a separate asset into a marital asset or a marital asset into separate personal property. This can be done by showing that the owning spouse intended the change to benefit the other spouse or the marital estate by commingling, using the separate property in support of the marriage, implied gift, or jointly titling the property.
Proof could consist of an agreement between the spouses, adding both names to a title or deed, or commingling so that your inheritance becomes untraceable.
Purchases Using Inheritances
If you make a purchase using your inheritance that is for the benefit of both you and your spouse, that item may be considered a marital asset.
For example, if you used a portion of your inheritance to make a down payment or to purchase a marital home, that portion may be looked at as a gift to the marriage.
Increase in Value of Inheritance
A portion of your inheritance may be considered marital property if your inheritance increased in value due to the joint efforts of you and your spouse during the marriage.
For example, you inherited an investment property and your spouse contributed money or labor to the upkeep or to making improvements of the property, or marital assets were used for those purposes or for making any mortgage or loan payments related to the property.
If the increase in value is not due to joint efforts, it will generally remain your separate property. For example, if your inheritance included a home and the increase was due to a general rise in value of property in that location.
Child Support and Alimony
If you have children from your marriage, the Tulsa divorce court may set apart a portion of your separate personal property, including your inheritance, to the custodial spouse for the support of the children.
The court may also award a portion of your inheritance to your spouse if there are little or no marital assets and your spouse is disabled or cannot support him or herself for other reasons.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Divorce Attorney
Determining what is separate personal property from marital assets depends on many variables and can be complex. It would be wise to consult with an attorney that knows the many ways an Oklahoma divorce settlement agreement could go. He or she can help you determine whether your inheritance is separate or marital property.
If you and your spouse have decided to obtain a divorce, a Tulsa divorce attorney has the experience and expertise to guide and represent you throughout every aspect of filing for and obtaining a divorce, including issues involving separate personal property and inheritance issues.
Call the Divorce of Tulsa Law Office at 918-924-5526 today to make an appointment for your free consultation.