When you get married, both you and your spouse may have separate assets. These are things that you acquired before you got married, and you’re both bringing them to the marriage. Initially, these may be considered separate assets.
But these can become marital assets if they are commingled. This just means that they have been mixed together. Both people have access to them and can use them as their own. Instead of remaining separate assets, these turn into shared assets that the married couple possesses together.
Commingling an inheritance
One example of this is if one person gets an inheritance from their parents. This is generally considered a separate asset, even if it is given to them after the marriage.
But that person may then use the inheritance to buy a shared asset, like a family home. Or they may simply deposit the inheritance in a shared account, such as an investment portfolio for when they retire or a shared bank account.
By mixing the inheritance together, they have commingled it and given their spouse a right to use that money. If they get divorced, this becomes very important. Separate assets generally stay with the person who owned them, but shared assets have to be split up during property division. As a result, one person may believe that they have a separate asset when they have actually commingled it and they need to split it with their ex during the divorce.
As you can imagine, this often leads to disagreements and complex court cases. Those who find themselves involved in this type of situation need to know about their legal options to protect their assets, find solutions and focus on the future.