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Inheritance funds may spark conflict during a divorce proceeding

Divorce can understandably be tough emotionally. However, it can be just as difficult financially, particularly if you and your future ex-spouse cannot find common ground in areas such as the division of property. This property may range from real estate and cars to the money in your shared bank account and even your retirement plan funds. 

When it comes to the division of property, a question that commonly arises is whether one of the spouses has the right to receive a portion of the other party's inheritance if the inheritance came during the course of the marriage. Here is a look at how the state of Florida handles inheritance funds during divorce.

Equitable distribution in Florida

Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means that a judge will divide your marital property in an equitable or fair manner. Marital property is any property that you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage. Meanwhile, any separate property you both have -- property that you individually brought into the marriage -- does not have to undergo division.

What to expect with an inheritance

Under the law, an inheritance is not marital property. Rather, an inheritance is separate property that belongs to the individual who received it. Therefore, if your aunt left you an inheritance, you do not have to divide it during your divorce proceeding.

However, if you decide to mix your inheritance money with your spouse's funds as part of a joint account, you have essentially comingled the inheritance. The same is true if you use your inheritance to purchase a home or make improvements to a home you already own with your spouse.

These are just some of the ways in which your inheritance could lose its status as separate property, which means you may have to split it with your spouse as part of your divorce proceeding like any other marital asset. This is true whether you received your inheritance funds before the divorce or during your marital union.

Your options after comingling your inheritance

Even though comingling an inheritance generally converts this asset into marital property, the divorce court may still treat part of it as separate property if you can prove that you never intended to share the funds. In this situation, however, the burden of proof on your part is high. For this reason, enlisting the help of a family law attorney may be in your best interest when tackling such a complex situation involving property division in divorce.

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