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Treatment of inherited monies on divorce

Paul Walters, Solicitor in Astle Paterson’s Family Department discusses the Court’s approach to inherited money when people divorce.

Paul said “As with so many aspects of the treatment of assets following divorce the position as far as inherited assets are concerned is by no means straight forward.

If anyone inherits monies during their marriage and they regard their marriage as being on rocky-ground then it is absolutely essential that he/she takes legal advice before deciding how to invest those monies.

The Courts have come up with the wonderful word ‘mingling’ which I rather suspect first surfaced with Spike Milligan and The Goons of the 1950’s.  Goon fans should use the Little Jim voice!

Much depends on whether inherited assets have been ‘mingled’ with other assets or have been separately ring-fenced.

The onus is always going to be on the recipient to show that the inherited monies were never intended to be part of the assets of the marriage and it is therefore essential that that can be shown in clear ways.”

Paul continued “A case came before the Court on 7th October 2014.   The case was JL v SL (Financial orders: Property Inherited during marriage).

In this case towards the end of her marriage the wife had received getting on for £500,000 from her mother, the capital having been derived from her late father’s estate.

The money was received only 10 months before the end of the marriage and at a time when the wife suspected that the husband was forming a relationship with another woman.

However despite this the wife transferred some of the money into the husband’s name.

In subsequent financial proceedings in the course of divorce action the wife sought an order that the entire sum should be ring-fenced as belonging to her.   However, the District Judge who heard the case decided that the money had become a matrimonial asset and should not be ring-fenced.

The wife sought permission to appeal against this ruling.”

Paul concluded “Mr Justice Mostyn in giving the wife permission to appeal clearly disagreed with the stance that the District Judge had taken.

Whilst Mr Justice Mostyn gave the wife permission to appeal he suggested that the parties should try to resolve matters through mediation – however, by that stage the wife had spent more than £20,000.00 on legal fees!!

The secret is to get advice as to how to deal with substantial sums that one party receives during the course of the marriage to substantially reduce the scope for argument later on.”

At Astle Paterson we have Lawyers (Martin Astle, Paul Walters, Anita Crewdson and Rayhana Kausar) who between them have a wealth of knowledge and experience about how to get you (and, if there are any, your children) through a divorce in not only the quickest, but most efficient and amicable way possible.

Please contact Paul Walters, Solicitor in Astle Paterson’s Family Department on 01283 531366 or by way of email to his secretary at hhall@astlepaterson.co.uk.

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