Commingling: What Is It And How Does It Affect Your Divorce?

If in the middle of a divorce, and family court requests a list of every asset, financial account and property you own, you may wonder if the divorcing spouse can tap into your inheritance funds. In most cases, your inherited money is yours to keep and not share with your divorcing spouse. However, if you added portions of your divorcing spouse's income to the inheritance throughout your marriage, family court may say that you commingled your inheritance. Here's what commingled is and how it affects your divorce.

What Does Commingle Mean?

Commingled means to mix or combine your personal assets, funds and properties with the assets, funds and properties you and your spouse acquire together during marriage. You commingled assets when you allowed your divorcing spouse to deposit funds in your inheritance account. Your divorcing spouse can ask the family court to divide the inheritance equally during your divorce.

However, if your divorce attorney can separate the original amount of the inheritance from the interest it earned at the bank, and from the funds added to the inheritance by your divorcing spouse, you may be able to keep all of your inheritance money after your divorce.

How Does Your Attorney Separate Your Inheritance From the Divorcing Spouse's Contributions?

Your lawyer can separate your inheritance from the spouse's contributions by ordering copies of your deceased relative's estate and will information from the city. The city keeps detailed records of every estate it probates, including the distribution of inheritances. You also need to provide your attorney with a copy of your banking account that holds the inheritance. It's a good idea that you visit the bank and secure updated records of the account to avoid submitting incorrect financial data to your attorney.

After they obtain the information, your attorney will subtract all of the earned interest from the original amount of the inheritance. Keep in mind that the interest earned by the inheritance account reflects the total amount in the account and not just your inheritance money. The interest becomes community property in your marriage. In addition, the lawyer separates the amount deposited to it by your divorcing spouse over the years from the inheritance to show exactly how much they added to the account.

Once they have a total for the interest and spouse's contributions, your attorney submits the amount to family court for distribution during your divorce proceedings. Family court will most likely divide the interest earned from the inheritance account equally between you and your divorcing spouse, even if your inheritance is larger than the divorcing spouse's funds. In addition, the court may give the divorcing spouse back all of the funds they added to your inheritance account to avoid conflicts during the divorce. 

If you need more information about your inheritance or divorce, contact your lawyer, such as, right away.