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Will divorce have you fighting to keep inheritances or gifts?

Throughout life, it is not unusual for people to receive monetary gifts or inheritances, which can sometimes come in considerable amounts. Though you may greatly appreciate the inheritance, it can be stressful to think about it when going through a divorce. After all, you may not fully understand whether you will be able to keep the funds you inherited after a loved one's passing or whether your spouse could have a claim to some of it.

In Texas, family courts subject marital assets to a 50-50 split under community property division laws. Understandably, you do not want funds given directly to you as a gift or inheritance to end up split in half with your soon-to-be ex. He or she would be receiving something that a loved one meant solely for you.

Is it separate property?

In general, inheritances and gifts provided to one person are considered separate property, which means that the court will not divide them in a divorce. If you have records showing that you did not use the funds for any purpose that benefited both you and your spouse or the household, you may have a better chance of claiming your inheritance or gifted funds as separate property.

A major issue that could trip up your argument for separate property is if you comingled any of the funds with marital assets. For example, if you deposited the gift or inheritance into a joint bank account shared with your spouse, it becomes marital property because you both have access to it and could use it at will. It could also become marital property if you used it for any household purpose, such as using the funds to make a purchase of something jointly owned with your spouse.

A tricky situation

Sometimes, it is not clear whether gifted or inherited funds fall into the realm of marital property, and if you have such funds, you undoubtedly want to keep as much to yourself after divorce as possible. In this type of situation, it is important that you know your legal options and how the law could affect your case. 

You may have to fight to keep your property, and having a legal advocate on your side could help you do that. Looking at your assets as a whole, categorizing marital and separate property, and assessing what a 50-50 split looks like may help you strategize.

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