Do you have to Share Inherited Property following Divorce?

Distributing Inherited Property

Family Lawyers can help you Protect your Rightful Share

After marriage, it’s a common tendency to treat individual assets including houses, cars, boats, jewellery etc as a shared pool of assets between partners. Contrary to popular belief, family lawyers suggest that inherited property does not automatically fall under the shared pool of assets. Each divorce is characterised by different circumstances and thus, each case is unique in its own way. Distribution of property in divorce cases, including inherited property, is decided according to the guidelines listed in the Family Law Act under Australian law.

In fact, keeping in mind the increasing rates of divorce in Australia, it’s important for couples to be aware of laws governing the distribution of inherited valuables, assets and property. Hence, it’s important for couples to understand how different factors play a role in deciding the distribution of inherited property in case of divorce.

  • The manner in which the Family Court will decide distribution of inherited assets will depend to a large extent on the nature of the bequest. Some assets or property may be bequeathed to one partner while others may be bequeathed to both.

  • Each couple may share their monies and assets in different ways. The distribution of inherited assets will also follow their preference and requirement. Please keep in mind that any agreements regarding inherited property should be watertight and preferably drawn up by legal professionals. Loosely worded agreements may result in litigious actions and may prolong the legal battle between the divorcing partners.
  • Many couples opt to ‘commingle’ their assets, implying that they invest their funds or assets jointly. For example, both partners may invest their monies into an investment or may decide to jointly purchase a home. In such cases, the inherited assets may also be regarded as part of the shared pool of assets. Once assets are commingled (this is usually done with the consent of both partners), the assets will be treated as a whole by the Australian Family Court.

It’s a good idea to keep your inherited property in a separate account so that it is protected from litigation in the aftermath of divorce. A reliable lawyer can help you draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that allows you to keep inherited property out of the shared pool of assets.

Once you enter into a marriage relationship, it’s important to handle your inherited property in the right manner. This will have a significant impact on the way that it is handled in the aftermath of a divorce. Nebulousness in property matters often leads to acrimonious disagreements between divorcing partners. It’s best to seek competent legal advice regarding the sharing of inherited property and the distribution in the event of divorce.