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Yes, Gifts from Your In-Laws Can Be Marital Property


Having in-laws with the means and the willingness to give you and your spouse cash and other valuable gifts makes life easier when you are happily married, but if you and your spouse divorce, then property that you acquired as a gift from your in-laws can make the equitable distribution of property more complicated.  Gifts and inheritance money that one spouse receives from his or her family members start out as separate property, which you do not have to split with your spouse, but which does play a role in the calculation of how much alimony you will pay or receive after your divorce.  If you deposit the money your parents gave you in a joint bank account with your spouse or otherwise use it like marital property, the court will classify it as marital property for purposes of determining equitable distribution and alimony.  If this happens, then one spouse is entitled to receive a share of the money given to the couple by the other spouse’s parents.  If cash gifts from one spouse’s parents are a point of dispute in your divorce case, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.

Once a Marital Asset, Always a Marital Asset

During Roberta and Dean’s 21-year marriage, Roberta’s mother gave her a series of cash gifts for Christmas and her birthday; the total value of the gifts over the course of the parties’ marriage was about $78,000.  Roberta deposited all the gift money in a bank account titled both in her name and in Dean’s.  In practice, Roberta was the only person who made transactions from this account, although both spouses’ names were on the account.  In the summer of 2010, about a year before the parties separated, Roberta changed the account so that it was in her name only, but she listed Dean as a payable on death beneficiary.  The following year, just weeks before the parties separated, she removed Dean as a beneficiary.  After the separation, she took most of the money out of that bank account and transferred it to her mother’s account.

When Roberta and Dean divorced in 2011, the court classified the money that Roberta’s mother had given her as marital property.  The fact that Roberta had first converted the joint account to a separate account and then tried to make the money look as if it still belonged to her mother did not change the court’s opinion that the money was a marital asset.  If anything, these actions counted as marital misconduct on Roberta’s part.  In its ruling, it clarified that simply spending money while a divorce is in process does not count as marital misconduct, but actions taken solely for the purposes of diminishing the value of the marital property do count.

Contact Us Today for Professional Help

If your ex-spouse is accusing you of intentionally losing money after filing for divorce, a Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help show that your expenditures were necessary.  Contact Schwartz | White for help.



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