Receiving an inheritance can help many North Carolina residents obtain more financial security. However, if you received an inheritance and are now facing divorce proceedings, you may have concerns about whether your soon-to-be ex-spouse could have a claim to those funds. This concern affects many people in this type of situation, but you can assess your particular circumstances to determine whether your inheritance faces the risk of division.

North Carolina is an equitable division state in terms of how the courts handle property distribution during divorce. This means that the court will divide your marital assets as fairly as possible. Before you jump to the conclusion that the court will divide your inheritance, you may want to determine whether it falls into the category of marital or separate property.

Separate or an exception?

Typically, state law automatically considers inheritances separate property because the funds or other assets go directly to one person. If you received an inheritance, kept it separate from the household finances and did not use it for marital expenses, it will likely remain your separate property. This means that the court will not take it into consideration when dividing assets.

Of course, as with most rules, there are exceptions. If you received an inheritance and comingled the funds by placing them in a joint bank account with your spouse, used the funds to make improvements to the marital home, allowed the funds to cover household bills or otherwise used them for the benefit of the household, the inheritance will likely fall into the category of marital property instead.

Can you combat comingling assumptions?

The idea of losing out on some of your inheritance may understandably have you worried. You may not fully know whether you comingled funds or if they have remained your separate property. If you believe that the court may consider your inheritance marital property, you could combat that assumption by arguing that you never intended to share the funds with your spouse or the household. However, this argument can be difficult to prove.

When fighting for something as important as an inheritance, it is essential that you have the right information. You may want to gain details regarding state property division law, actions considered comingling and options for retaining as much of your inheritance as possible. Fortunately, working with an experienced family law attorney could help you better understand your legal options.