Inherited assets are not automatically ring-fenced on divorce and will still need to be disclosed during the financial disclosure process. Such assets are likely to be regarded as an unmatched contribution by the spouse who was the beneficiary, and the court will then decide whether the inheritance should be shared and if so, in what proportions. This may depend on the nature of the inheritance and its value, and when it was received. As with contributions generally, they are likely to be more relevant in the case of shorter marriages, whereas with longer marriages their significance can decrease over time. Furthermore, finances tend to become entwined making the process of distinguishing between assets more difficult.
Crucially though, the bottom line is that if the needs of the parties and any children in the family who are minors cannot be met without use of the inherited assets, the fact that the assets were derived from inheritance is unlikely to be a significant consideration for the court. In those circumstances, the court will distribute inheritance in the same way as any other assets of the parties, to ensure that needs are met.
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