When assets are being split following a divorce, the courts will often start at the point that seems most fair and equal, a 50/50 split. However, this does not mean that the courts will not consider all remaining factors when deciding what is well and truly fair to both parties. These factors can include the necessary resources that should be available to both parties following the split, how long the marriage lasted, the standard of living in which the family experienced as well as the general monetary needs of each person.
Inheritance is often something greatly considered following a split as well as how possible future inheritance may be dealt with as both parties go their separate ways. There is no clear instruction guide on how inheritance is dealt with in law and this often leads to couples wondering how they can protect their inheritance against potential future claims from each other.
If the inheritance is received before or during the marriage, then arguably it should be ‘ring-fenced’ by the court, meaning that it is kept out of the splitting of marital assets. In England and wales, inheritance should not legally be treated the same way as other assets such as property and savings that are acquired during the marriage and relationship as the spouse not due the inheritance, would have a much weaker claim to it. Therefore, it must be viewed differently by the courts.
In order to ‘ring-fence’ any inheritance you have or are entitled to, it must reach a criteria of it’s value, nature and the circumstance in which it was acquired being of significance. An example of this would perhaps be money that has been passed down through a family over some years. However, if factors such as the mentioned are not present, the court does have the ability to decide that the inheritance should be split and how it should be split.
How the inheritance is dealt with of course differs according to an individual family’s situation, no two are often the same usually due to the differing factors between marriages. Longer marriages usually equal in an inheritance being split as individual assets are hard to split due to many years of entanglement. Another factor considering in the splitting of inheritance can be in relation to children. If one spouse has increased custody of child, an inheritance could be split in that parent’s favour to make sure that both the child and the parent’s needs are comfortably met. This is simply in order to keep things fair.
In terms of inheritance that is due and have not yet been received, the courts will approach this slightly differently. If this inheritance is due in the near future, it could be argued that this should be included in a financial settlement agreement as part of the assets. However, this is not usually a common occurrence because of the inability to be certain of the potential value of the settlement.
Often times, people are not aware that this is something that should be covered following a divorce and assume they are automatically protected as a result of the divorce. They assume that these processes should be expensive and lengthy. We work to make sure both of these factors are avoided and make sure that you are fully protected from future claims so you are able to move forward and lead a happily divorced life.
Protect your assets and inheritance today.