We have surveyed over 2000 people to find out their views on
divorce proceedings. When it comes to inheritance, it seems people
feel very differently about assets inherited before marriage and
those inherited during marriage.
Nearly two-thirds of people (64%) feel that assets inherited
before marriage should not be included in a divorce settlement
– this is even more pronounced among women, where the figure
sits at 71%.
For assets inherited during a marriage, a much smaller
proportion of people (39%) feel that they should not be included in
How does the law treat inherited wealth in a divorce
When a marriage breaks down, if one of the couple's
inherited assets are needed to provide for the family in the
future, then the Court can order them to be included in a
settlement. Despite what people told us in our survey, this applies
equally to wealth inherited before or during a marriage. Decisions
on these issues are always dependent on the individual facts of a
case – there are no hard and fast rules. In short, how the
Court treats inherited assets is a hugely grey area and each result
will depend on the facts of the individual case, driven by what a
Our figures indicate that on the whole, women feel more strongly
about attempting to ring-fence inherited wealth than men –
71% of women believe wealth inherited pre-marriage should not be
included in any divorce settlement compared to only 56% of men.
Ultimately, anyone who wants to try and hold inherited wealth
separately once married should take legal advice on putting in
place a properly executed Pre-Nuptial Agreement. Once married, they
should then take steps to avoid intermingling inherited wealth with
In situations where one-half of a couple inherits significant
wealth during a marriage, it is also worth considering a
Post-Nuptial Agreement. Parties should be aware that the Courts are
not obliged to accept the terms of Nuptial Agreements, but they
will consider them as highly persuasive.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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While a request for a divorce may come as a shock, most people come to the realisation that if their spouse considers that the marriage is over then, perhaps after attending marriage counselling, there is no point fighting the inevitable.
There is no question that Mr and Mrs Owens are both unhappy with their current position, and the Court of Appeal judges were equally unhappy with the current legal position. The question is what should be done.
The highly unusual decision in the recent case of Owens v Owens, has served as a reminder of the Respondent's right to defend a Petition for divorce, and the Court's power to reject a Petition based on unreasonable behaviour...
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