During a divorce, the courts will typically split up your marital assets. Items that you purchase during marriage and income you earn while married, as well as that’s you accrue supporting your household may all constitute marital property shared between spouses. 

Your separate property, which may include assets owned prior to marriage, inheritances and gifts from people other than your spouse, typically isn’t subject to division in a divorce. However, there could be circumstances in which the courts will consider a spouse’s claim to property that was the separate property of only one spouse as part of the asset division process in your divorce. 

When a spouse invests work or money, they may have a claim

Perhaps the house where you live is a family estate that you inherited, or maybe you owned the house outright because you paid off the mortgage before you got married. 

While large assets like homes, vehicles or even a business may have been separate property prior to marriage, if your spouse does significant work or makes provable financial contributions toward the maintenance or improvement of your separate property, they may have a claim to some of the value of that property as a result of their contribution.

If you gave your spouse access, they can possibly claim and interest

If you receive an inheritance while married, just sharing it with your spouse may seem like the right thing to do. However, you can allow your spouse to benefit from your inheritance without giving them direct access to or control over it. 

Those who share separate property with their spouse or who commingling marital and separate property by depositing their separate property into a shared account may find that in the eyes of the courts, those assets might now be marital property.