Many spouses believe they will keep any inheritance in a Connecticut divorce. It is true that frequently judges view inheritances as assets which stay with the side of the family that generated the inheritance. However, this is not always the case.

A 2014 Connecticut Appellate decision made it clear that inheritances, like all other types of property, are subject to “equitable” distribution at the time of divorce. Equitable in this context means that that a judge can do what is fair. Equitable does not necessarily mean an equal division of property.

The factors that a judge will weigh when dividing property are:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Causes for the divorce
  • Age
  • Health
  • Occupation
  • Sources of income
  • Earning capacity
  • Vocational skills
  • Education
  • Employability
  • Estate
  • Liabilities and needs of each party
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of assets and income
  • The contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation and appreciation in the value of their estates.

So a spouse who inherited assets before or during the marriage will argue that since they were responsible for “acquiring” the asset that they should keep it. As stated above, this is often a winning argument but not always. Other factors such as length of marriage and the other spouse’s non-monetary contributions (i.e. homemaking, companionship and primary caretaking of children) are important and may sway a judge to award part of an inheritance to the other spouse.

The best way to maximize your chances at keeping an inheritance is to think ahead – perhaps you have a prenuptial agreement. If not, consider a post-nuptial agreement particularly if you contemplate receiving a sizeable inheritance.

I represent parents throughout Fairfield County including Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Contact me online or call my Fairfield office at (203) 259-5251 or my Stamford office at (203) 356-1475  if you have a question about an inheritance in a Connecticut divorce.


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