It seems that ending a marriage is all about division. Custody, property, finances and even the family pets are divided between the two spouses during divorce. Although so much of one’s life is suddenly subject to being split, many take for granted that certain financial assets such as inheritances are exempt from the division process that is taking place. That could be a costly assumption as that is not necessarily true in Wyoming.
If the two spouses cannot reach an agreement for splitting the assets on their own, the court will divide it for them. Wyoming is considered an equitable division state. That means that the division of property, including finances, is to be equitable to both parties. That does not necessarily mean that the division will be equal, however, although it may be if that is what the court determines is appropriate for the situation. This also means the court may decide to divide assets that the spouses would not have otherwise chosen to divide.
The questions of if and how an inheritance is split are determined by how that property was handled. Normally, property acquired prior to the marriage is considered separate property and is not included in the divorce division; however, if that property was used during the marriage for the benefit of the couple, then it may be considered to have become marital property and be subject to division. For example, if the inheritance was money and that money was put into a joint account and used for household needs, then it may be considered comingled and, therefore, marital property.
No one begins a marriage planning to have to fight for his or her property in the future. It is human nature to be trusting of loved ones, so finances are often shared and left unprotected. It is often too late to change those practices when it becomes apparent that a divorce is going to happen. Divorce can feel like a time of much loss and division, so it is important to have the right information to know how to avoid potential losses. An experienced and caring attorney can guide one through the difficult, emotional process and can help safeguard against losing an inheritance to a spouse for which it was never intended.