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Can I keep my inheritance in a divorce?

Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property assets must be split fairly during a divorce.

However, if you received an inheritance during your marriage that you want to keep after a divorce, whether you can do so or not largely depends on how separate you kept the inheritance.

If your inheritance became marital property

In some cases, inheritances become apparent marital property. For example, suppose your great-uncle left you his cottage in the woods. Every fall, you, your spouse and the kids packed up to spend many glorious weekends there as the leaves changed color. Moreover, you used money from the savings account you shared with your husband to renovate the cabin, and he oversaw some aspects entirely on his own.

Similarly, suppose you inherited $100,000 cash and put it in the joint account you shared with your spouse. The both of you drew from that account for everyday living expenses and emergencies. Or, maybe you used the $100,000 to buy a house that is in both of your names.

You may still have a greater claim to your inheritance if it has become marital property. Greater does not mean a 100 percent claim, though. If you want to keep the cottage in the woods, a judge may decide your spouse has a 25 percent claim to it.

If your inheritance was kept separate

On the other hand, suppose you inherited that $100,000 and put it in an entirely separate account with only your name on it. Anything you spent the money on, you alone used. Such a case is more clear-cut, with your chances of keeping the inheritance in full much greater.

Spousal support

You may have kept your inheritance clearly and strictly separate, but because it increases the number of assets you have, it could affect the amount of spousal support you need to pay. Thus, you might end up having to use part of your inheritance for spousal support.

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