To start, you have to know how inheritances are handled during a divorce. Even if an inheritance is received during a marriage, it is generally considered a separate asset. It usually stays with the person who received it, since it is a gift.
This means that, as far as the division of assets goes, the inheritance may not have an impact on how assets are split up. What, if any, role does it have in spousal support?
What if the Payee Receives an Inheritance Before Determining Alimony?
What happens if the person receiving spousal support is expected to receive alimony? Perhaps someone in ill health is known to have willed a significant sum of money to the payee, or they are waiting for an estate to go through probate. An anticipated inheritance has no effect on spousal support. Until someone actually has money in their bank account, it does not influence the court’s ruling.
However, if the payee gains access to an inheritance prior to spousal support being decided, it will definitely change how much they receive. Remember, spousal support is meant to help a lower-earning spouse maintain their lifestyle after the end of a marriage. If they can maintain their lifestyle without money from the other party, thanks to a job, finding another partner, or inheritance, there is no reason for the other person to pay alimony. Of course, this depends on the amount of the inheritance and how long it is expected to last.
When the Payee Gets an Inheritance After Alimony Has Been Decided
Spousal support has been ordered and payments have started. What happens now if the payee comes into a large sum of money? The payer can go to court and ask for alimony payments to be reduced or completely terminated.
The scenario is similar to when a payee finishes school, gets a huge promotion or begins receiving financial support from a new spouse or live-in partner. Once their financial needs are met elsewhere, the court will not make their ex-spouse continue supporting them financially. Depending on your divorce settlement, your paperwork may have a clause regarding what happens if one party receives an inheritance or large sum of money.
Protecting Your Best Interests in Family Court
Regardless of which side you fall on in this scenario, it’s important to protect yourself when moving through the family court system. If you pay spousal support to someone receiving or are likely to start receiving inheritance funds, you’ll want to speak to a family law attorney to find out if or when you can stop spousal support payments.
If you receive alimony but know that inheritance is forthcoming, you should also connect with a family law attorney. You may want to review the terms of your divorce agreement so you know what you need to report to the court and when payments will be decreased or terminated.
If you’re still in the middle of a divorce, you can address situations like this one with a solid divorce settlement. When one party is receiving spousal support, it’s crucial to be clear about what conditions require a review of the payment arrangements and which conditions mean an immediate end to monthly payments.
Find Out How Kirk Drennan Law Can Help You
The team at Kirk Drennan Law is well-versed in every aspect of family law, making us the natural choice for your divorce. We’re committed to helping you navigate this challenging time with as little stress as possible. Get started now by contacting us to schedule a consultation. You can reach us or call us at 205-803-3500.