Inherited & Pre-Acquired Wealth

Assets that were owned before the couple’s marriage that came to them long after separation or were given to or inherited by one of them can be emotional issues when looking at financial settlement on divorce.

On separation and divorce, the extent to which assets or resources of one party or the other should be treated as matrimonial assets can become relevant.

What Are Not Matrimonial Assets?

Usually, any assets, resources and liabilities the couple have will be relevant when looking at financial matters on separation and divorce. Sometimes, however, where one of the couple has built up the wealth themselves, perhaps prior to the relationship or after it ended, or received it themselves by way or gift or inheritance they will argue that those assets are their own and should not be treated as matrimonial assets.

Examples of this can include properties or savings that had been inherited from one side of the family or other, businesses that were run or pensions that accrued before the relationship began.

What Is Taken Into Account?

Our Family Law team often deal with cases where one spouse will say that an asset should be “ringfenced” because of its circumstances and how it came to the family. In some cases that will be entirely appropriate. In other cases, the asset might be regarded as a matrimonial asset, like any other.

How the Court views the asset is likely to turn on how it was treated during the relationship and marriage. For example, was the asset used by the family and the benefit of it shared by them or was the resource mixed with other family assets. The needs of the couple, and any children, also carry a great amount of weight.

Specialist Advice

Our family lawyers know that such issues are important not only for the couple but sometimes for the wider family. They regularly advise on:

  • The effect that “mingling” inherited wealth with other assets or income of the family during the marriage has on the treatment of the asset;
  • The treatment of inheritance on divorce;
  • The preservation of inherited or pre-marital assets, including pension;
  • The treatment of family trusts;
  • The steps that can be taken prior to marriage to protect pre-acquired wealth and future inheritances, for example, by entering into a prenuptial agreement.

How Can Timms Help?

If you would like to discuss inherited wealth, pre-acquired wealth or any other issue relating to separation and divorce, please do not hesitate to get in contact. You can call us on freephone 0800 011 6666 or reach us by email at