Its common to ask is inheritance part of a divorce settlement in Oklahoma. The answer depends on several factors. There are two approaches to dividing property in a divorce case used by the legal systems of the fifty states. Some states, especially those in the western U.S., use community property rules to divide marital property equally. Oklahoma follows the majority view, the equitable distribution rule, used in more than three-quarters of the states. Only property acquired during a marriage is subject to division following divorce. Oklahoma considers various factors to divide property equitably in a property division case. It is important to note that “equitable distribution” does not mean “equal distribution.” Fairness supersedes any notion of an equal division of marital property.
Property Categories In An Oklahoma Divorce
Property is divided into categories as the court considers an equitable distribution of the marital estate. Property can be divided by agreement or by the family law judge after a trial. When dividing marital property in a divorce the Judge has a great deal of discretion to do what they think is fair. Its easy to imagine that in an attempt to divide property equitably one or both of the marital partners doesn’t get what they hoped.
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All property acquired during a marriage is marital property. Marital property includes property acquired during the marriage regardless of who works to buy the property. It also includes property bought solely for the use and enjoyment of only one of the marital partners.
Separate personal property is generally not included in marital assets. Separate property can be protected in marriage by a prenuptial agreement. These include the following types of assets:
- Property acquired before the marriage
However, any property classified initially as separate rather than marital property may change its character if assets are commingled or transmuted.
When Pre-Marital Property May Become Marital Property
Commingling is the process of combining or blending separate personal assets with marital property. If this occurs, the separate property may transform into a marital asset. This property will now be subject to division in a divorce case. Initially, this property would not have been divided by an Oklahoma court, and the original owner would have retained 100% ownership.
EXAMPLE: You inherit $100,000 and deposit these funds into a bank account with both your names on the bank account and other marital funds in the account. You both use these funds in support of the marriage.
Transmutation Of Assets
Transmutation is the process of changing a separate asset into a marital asset or a marital asset into separate property. The intention to benefit the other spouse or the marital estate by using the separate property in support of the marriage or changing the property to a joint title may accomplish the transmutation of assets.
EXAMPLE: You inherit real property worth $100,000 and title the property jointly.
Increasing The Value of Inheritances
Some or all part of an inheritance may be deemed marital property if a spouse causes the inheritance to increase in value due to joint contributions by both spouses during the marriage.
EXAMPLE: You inherit real property worth $100,000, and both spouses contribute to the maintenance and improvement of the property.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: You inherit real property worth $100,000, and marital assets are used to make mortgage payments on the property.
EXAMPLE: You inherit real property worth $100,000, and at the time of the divorce, its value has risen to $200,000 through no joint efforts of the spouses. This is likely not a marital asset.
Making Purchases Using Inheritances
If you purchase things using your inheritance that benefits both you and your spouse, the purchased items may be considered marital assets.
EXAMPLE: You inherit $100,000 and use $50,000 of this inheritance to purchase a marital asset. The court will divide $50,000 of this property upon divorce.
The question is Inheritance part of a divorce settlement in Oklahoma can be answered in a well drafted prenuptial agreement. Drafting a premarital or prenuptial agreement is easy but insuring its enforceability in divorce requires the original contract is precisely drafted. Some requirements include a full disclosure of all premarital assets and liabilities. Its important because if one party isn’t fully informed of what they are giving up they may be able to successfully challenge the enforceability of the marital contract.
Oklahoma Family Law Attorneys
The division of property in a divorce case can be complicated and confusing especially in a high asset divorce. The attorneys at Kania Law Office are experienced and knowledgeable in Oklahoma divorce cases. We can help you settle all issues related to your marital property fairly and equitably. For more information about how our Oklahoma divorce lawyers can help you call (918) 743-2233 or contact us online.