Generally speaking, if you receive an inheritance, that money belongs to you. If you get divorced, you can claim that it is separate property that your parents never intended to leave to your spouse, so it needs to stay within the family.
However, there is one way that you can change this, perhaps accidentally. If you commingle your inheritance with the rest of your assets, its status may change to a marital asset instead. You may have to split it with your spouse in a divorce if commingling occurs.
How commingling works
Commingling is essentially the process of mixing assets. For instance, if you get the inheritance and invest it under your name in a personal account, it is a separate asset. If you put it into a joint investment account that you and your spouse both contribute to and have the ability to access, then the inheritance can become a marital asset.
Another example is when you use the money on something you own jointly. Maybe you use the inheritance as a downpayment on a house that you and your spouse finance together. When you get divorced, you cannot claim that you still own that money or that the house should belong to you. You willingly shared the money with your spouse, and now the home — the asset you own on account of the inheritance — is a marital asset.
What happens to your assets when you divorce?
If you’re getting divorced and you have any questions about what to do with your assets, especially if you and your spouse disagree, you must understand all of your legal rights.