As the potential for your marriage to end increases, you may be trying to gather your resources and make some preparations for what is sure to be a confusing and emotional time. There are many uncertainties, and you want to be sure you are not caught unprepared and unsure of your rights. In addition to child custody issues, you want to be sure you receive a fair share of your joint assets so that you will be able to establish yourself securely after the divorce.

Wyoming is one of the equitable distribution states, so a family court judge will consider several factors as he or she divides your property between you and your spouse. This is not necessarily an equal split, and a judge will exercise some discretion in making a decision. However, you may be wondering if that division of assets includes your inheritance?

Protecting your legacy

If a loved one left you an inheritance, the question of whether it will become part of asset division involves many elements. In many cases, any inheritance a spouse receives is not marital property unless the departed bequeathed the gift to both you and your spouse. The determining factor is what you do with your inheritance. If you did any of the following things, you may have a difficult time protecting your bequest from asset division during your divorce:

  • Placing your inheritance in the bank account you share with your spouse
  • Sharing part of your inheritance with your spouse
  • Using some of your inheritance for joint investments
  • Using any of the inheritance for marital or family reasons, such as making repairs on the home or taking a family vacation.

Any of these factors may jeopardize your inheritance even if you obtained the gift prior to getting married. In many cases, people with substantial inheritances they want to protect will use prenuptial agreements in which they ask their spouses to relinquish any claim to the inheritance. However, even a prenup may be difficult to defend if you willingly commingled your inheritance with the family funds.

The fate of your inheritance may be only one of many conflicts you and your spouse may encounter during the divorce process. The advice of an experienced family law attorney may prove invaluable, especially if you fear your rights will be threatened at any time during the process.