Big money divorces: who gets the inheritance?
As it was a big money case, the recent ‘Lady of the manor’ ruling doesn’t have a great deal of resonance with the ordinary family, but it does raise questions as to how capital should be divided between couples who are separating.
The most successful thing about the case was that it confirmed the principle that contributions are treated equally, whether financial or not. Raising children and tending to the family is just as equal as bringing home the bacon.
In big money divorce cases, as there’s enough money to deal with each party’s needs, the question arises as to how any surplus capital should be divided between the couple afterwards.
If most of that capital has come from inherited assets then quite often the party who inherited the wealth will argue that they should keep it and it shouldn’t be claimed by the other spouse.
Whether or not inherited assets will be ring fenced in this way depends to a great extent on the degree in which they’ve been merged with the marital assets and shared by the couple.
If the couple have never used the inherited capital and if it’s easily identifiable from the other marital assets, then the greater chance of it being retained in part or fully by the spouse who inherited the wealth.
Of course, in those divorce cases where one party’s needs can’t be met using the marital assets alone, then the court will award them sufficient of the inherited wealth to meet those needs.
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