Generally in divorce settlements in England and Wales all assets of the marriage are pooled and treated as joint assets. Money or property that are inherited are not automatically excluded from the assets to be divided.
However, every case is different and depends on individual circumstances including the size of the inheritance, when the asset is received, how it was dealt with during the marriage, and what the financial needs are of both parties. The financial needs of one or both parties may mean that inherited assets have to go into the ‘pot’.
The key questions when it comes to past inheritance and divorce are the size of the inheritance, when it was received, how it has been used and the financial needs of the parties and if there are children at the time of the divorce.
A recent Court of Appeal case has set out some useful guidelines:
- Each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances
- If inherited assets are transferred to joint names or used for the benefit of the couple/family, they are likely to form part of the ‘pot’ of matrimonial assets available for division by the Court
- Inherited assets received shortly before the breakdown of the marriage are less likely to be included in the matrimonial assets for division, depending on whether the other assets are sufficient to meet the couple’s or family’s future needs
- The needs of the family, especially where there are minor children, will be the overriding consideration and if the only way to meet those needs is by transferring inherited assets or assets deriving from them, to the other party, the Court may do this.
In your case, you aren't prevented from making a claim on the asset, but it's less likely to automatically be included if the asset is received after separation, though the court has the power to make this judgment call of course.
It will therefore depend on the size of the asset and then the court's assessment of the balance between your needs and your husband's needs as to whether you are awarded any of the asset in a final settlement, if it is not automatically included.
I appreciate this is not a definitive answer, but that would be impossible to give. I do trust that this has been of assistance however.
Can I clarify anything further about this for you today?