How Does My Inheritance Affect My Family Law Property Settlement?

by Lajita

In 1999, Sunny and Ria met through a marriage maker. Sunny lived in India and over several months they communicated via Skype, telephone and email and decided that it was true love. Ria owned a modest but run down property in Frankston. The plan was that she and Sunny were going to renovate it together.

Sunny migrated to Australia. Immediately after the wedding the relationship deteriorated and Sunny made constant demands for money from Ria to send back to India. Ria’s income was spent entirely on household expenses. Sunny was granted a work visa and started working at the local JB HiFi. His income was kept for himself. Ria suffered from a spinal injury because of a car accident on a weekend when she was returning from the supermarket.  Ria depleted her savings and did not have any money to give to Sunny. Sunny finally left the family home but refused to give Ria a divorce. There was one child of the marriage.

inheritance and property settlementRia still owns the run down property in Frankston and she has not heard from Sunny until 6 years after the separation when her father passed away. Sunny believes that Ria has inherited money from her father’s estate and is now demanding that she disclose her income and tax returns for the last four years. She is scared and fears for her financial independence as well as her safety once he knows that she has money. Ria wants to know how her inheritance will affect her family law property settlement.

Ria will have to consider a number of factors. Of significance is the amount of the inheritance, when Ria received the inheritance, whether it was “applied” and what other contributions were made by Sunny.

The house in Frankston was worth $450,000.00 and her inheritance was worth $2 million dollars. The question that would be asked is whether it would be unjust or inequitable for Ria’s inheritance to be left out of the property pool. Her inheritance may also have an impact on how the property pool is apportioned.

The inheritance was received 6 years after the separation and Sunny would find it default to prove that he significantly contributed to the inheritance. Ria would be well advised to apply for her inheritance to be “quarantined” from the asset pool available for distribution. Further, Ria can show that her inheritance was never “applied”. It would have been “applied” if for example a portion of the inheritance was used to renovate the house.

The fact that Ria was the bread winner, mother and homemaker during the marriage will influence how the property pool is apportioned. The fact that Ria has the ongoing care and responsibility for bringing up their child will also have an impact on how the property pool is apportioned.

Ria’s case is unique and there is no set formula to when determining how your inheritance will affect your property settlement.

Each matter must be assessed on a case by case basis and will depend on your unique circumstances.

For legal advice specific to your matter and to see how your inheritance is likely to be treated in property settlement contact us at TBA LAW on (03) 5794 2334.

[maxbutton id=”5″]