The starting point when considering how assets should be split on divorce is a position of equality.  However, the question of whether a spouse may be entitled to a portion of your inheritance is often an issue that arises.

Each case turns on its own facts and your personal circumstances will often dictate whether your inheritance will have to be shared with your spouse.  However it might be that the inheritance could justify a departure from equality and a reason to move away from an equal division of the assets.

There are numerous factors that need to be considered, some of which have been outlined below, such as:

  • When the inheritance was received
  • How much inheritance was received
  • How long the couple have been married
  • What other assets are in the matrimonial pot
  • Contributions made during the marriage
  • Do the couple have children
  • The ages of the couple
  • How much income they each earn

If a couple have been married for a long time and the inheritance was received at the start of the relationship, then it is more likely that the funds will be taken into account in the overall division, than where the inheritance is received towards the end of the relationship or shortly before separating.  However, ‘needs’ trump everything and circumstances do arise where the Court will have no other choice but to take the inheritance into account, when seeking to meet the ‘needs’ of the parties.

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