Do You Get to Keep Your Inheritance in a Divorce?

Under New Jersey law, inherited assets are exempt from equitable distribution and remain the separate property of the spouse that inherited the property. This means that they cannot be distributed to the other spouse in the event of a divorce. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. If you have a particular question about your specific situation, it may be best to consult with an attorney.

Exceptions to Exempt Status:

  1. If an asset is commingled with a marital asset, then it is no longer exempt from distribution
  2. Even if an asset is immune from equitable distribution, it does not mean that the money is unreachable as a means of spousal support

What does this mean for you?

  1. If your inheritance was deposited into a joint account, your spouse may be entitled to a portion
  2. If your inheritance was always kept separate, it may still be considered by a judge awarding support

Some Prior Case Law in NJ:

  1. Painter v. Painter (NJ Supreme Court 1974) – found that income derived from exempt property, like an inheritance, shall be considered the separate property of that particular spouse
  2. Miller v. Miller (NJ Supreme Court 1999) – found that income from separate property can be considered in determining an alimony award

Next Step?

The attorneys at the Law Office of Sara McArdle are here to advise you during the entire divorce process. In addition, they are zealous advocates for the best interests of their clients. If you are considering filing for divorce in NJ, our attorneys are available for consultation. Finally, please call our office at 973-366-5244 to schedule an appointment today.