We discuss Gifts and Inheritances and the financial part that these play in the Matrimonial Property when you Separate or Divorce.
A recent tabloid newspaper article* referred to a divorcing spouse who has “never had a penny that has not come from her parents”. This apparently includes lavish gifts from her father’s £135 million fortune. This raises an interesting point about gifts, inheritances and the financial part that these play in separation and divorce.
The general rule in Scots law is that any gift or inheritance received by either party before or during the marriage does not form part of the matrimonial property. The matrimonial property is the property which the court will consider splitting between the parties when they separate or divorce.
Therefore, if you or your spouse receive a gift from anyone – be it a jigsaw, a painting or £1 million in cash – it will not form part of the matrimonial property when you separate. (This does not apply if the gift is from one spouse to the other.) Equally, if you or your spouse receive an inheritance from anyone it will not form part of the matrimonial property when you separate.
An important, sometimes complicated, exception to this is that if the gift or inheritance changes form or substance during the marriage then it can become matrimonial property. An example of this would be if you inherited a painting during the marriage, then sold the painting during the marriage and put the cash from the sale into a savings account. The cash in the savings account would then be matrimonial property. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds, however, so you should seek legal advice if you have concerns about this.
Dividing the matrimonial property is usually one of the biggest concerns for separating and divorcing couples. Please get in touch if you would like our advice about this.
BTO Family Law experts are dedicated family lawyers specialising in helping you with divorce, separation and any aspect of family law, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland.