If you are considering divorce and have inherited money or property, you may be wondering if your spouse has a right to it. Connecticut law is different from many states in how it treats inherited assets. In many cases, your spouse can get part of your inheritance in divorce. However, how their share is calculated depends on several factors.
How Is Property Divided in Divorce Under Connecticut Law?
All property owned by you or your spouse is subject to equitable distribution in divorce. That means it is divided fairly not necessarily equally. There are several statutory factors that courts take into account in determining what is fair or equitable, including the length of the marriage; the causes of dissolution; the ages, health, and occupation of the parties; amount and sources of their income; the employability, liabilities, and needs of the parties; how a particular asset was acquired and each party’s contribution to the assets and other factors.
Does Your Spouse Have a Right to Half of Your Inheritance in Divorce?
Unlike other states, Connecticut does not recognize an inheritance as separate property even if it is titled in the name of one spouse only. As a result, even if you keep it in a separate account during the entire length of your marriage, it still gets counted as marital property subject to equitable distribution.
However, your spouse does not automatically get half of your inheritance. Instead, in dividing the property, the court will consider factors such as the length of your marriage, when during your marriage you received the inheritance, whether the inheritance was kept separately from other assets or commingled with other assets, and what percentage of the overall marital estate your inheritance represents.
For example, let’s say you have been married for 30 years and receive an inheritance in the third year of your marriage. Your spouse will probably get an equal share (or close to it), even if you kept the money in a separate account. Alternatively, if you receive an inheritance in year 25, you probably will keep a large portion of that inheritance. However, other factors are also relevant. If you’re worth $1 million and receive a $5 million inheritance, the judge will likely decide that some of that should be shared with your spouse to try to better equalize the assets on both sides. But if you’re worth $5 million and receive a $200,000 inheritance, you may be able to keep all or most of it.
If your marriage is short in duration and you inherit property and keep it separate, you will probably retain a large portion of it. But the longer the marriage, the larger the share your spouse will likely receive.
Ultimately, it is in the judge’s discretion to weigh these factors based on the circumstances. However, it is important to have strong legal representation to ensure you are presenting a strong case to the court and in negotiations with your spouse. If you are considering divorce, contact us to learn how we can help you achieve a fair result in your matter.