When you and your spouse decide to file for divorce, an important part of the process involves dividing marital property. New Jersey follows the equitable distribution rule, which means that marital property is divided in a way that is fair opposed to equal. However, this only applies to marital property. Separate property, which includes any assets that were acquired before the marriage, is generally not subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. In most cases, an inheritance is considered separate property, although there are exceptions to this rule.
Can Separate Property Become Marital Property?
While separate property applies to assets that you or your spouse acquired before getting married, there are circumstances where separate property can become marital property. This is known as transmutation. There are a number of ways this can happen, including the following:
- Your spouse was added to the title. If, for example, you owned a home prior to getting married and you added your spouse’s name to the title, the home may become subject to equitable distribution.
- Comingling of funds. This occurs when separate property funds are deposited into a joint bank account.
- Increase in value: If you received an inheritance (such as a home) and your spouse contributed to the value of the property, the increase in value may become marital property.
- Using separate funds to purchase marital assets. If you use money from your inheritance toward the purchase of a home that is in both of your names, the separate property may become marital property.
How Can I Keep My Inheritance Separate From Marital Property?
Marriage in New Jersey is like a corporation, and it will usually acquire assets and value by virtue of the employees, i.e., the spouses. There is no “one size fits all” approach to determining what, if anything, has been commingled and how that affects equitable distribution. There are proactive steps you can take now to protect your separate property.
A dedicated divorce lawyer will protect your legal and financial rights and recommend the best legal course of action.
Whitehouse Divorce Attorneys at Tune Law Group, LLC Work to Protect Clients’ Inheritances During Divorce
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about whether your spouse is entitled to a percentage of your inheritance, contact one of our Whitehouse divorce lawyers at Tune Law Group, LLC. Call us at 908-434-1061 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, we serve clients in and around Hunterdon County, Monmouth County, Whitehouse, and Tewksbury.