Inheritance money can complicate property division

A marital breakup can cause both emotional and financial disarray. One of the most common sources of conflict during a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania is property division. This is particularly true if one of the spouses has inheritance funds.

In many situations, a spouse enters a marriage with previously attained wealth. This wealth may include that attained through an inheritance, or it could be wealth that the spouse has accumulated on his or her own. In the case of an inheritance, if the inherited funds are kept separate from the couple's marital funds, it is considered separate property and thus is not subject to division during the divorce proceeding.

However, if the money is placed in a joint account, this constitutes a commingling of the funds with marital assets. When commingling occurs, the inheritance money is deemed marital property instead of separate property. As a result, the other party has the right to claim part of it in a subsequent divorce.

Property division during divorce proceedings is challenging, as both spouses may not be on the same page regarding how assets should be split. For instance, they may be at odds regarding how to address the marital home or their accumulated savings and retirement accounts. However, if they can find common ground, they may be able to sort out these issues through divorce mediation or negotiation, thus avoiding further court intrusion. If they cannot get along, though, a Pennsylvania family court judge will end up making the property division decisions for them.

Source: findlaw.com, "Inheritance and Divorce", Accessed on Jan. 9, 2018

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