– from Lillian E. in West Allis, WI

Question Details:

I have been married for nearly 10 years. My husband and I recently decided that it was time for a divorce. During our marriage, my mother (who is very well off) sent me numerous gifts. They were meant for me alone. The gifts consisted of jewelry, money, luxury items, and furnishings. To be honest, I wanted the cash more than anything so I sold most of the jewelry and luxury items. I put some of the money in my own personal bank accounts, but the rest was put into our joint account. This money was used for living expenses, home repairs and maintenance, and normal expenditures. Is the money and gifts I kept considered part of our joint marital estate?

Family Law Attorney Response:

As a general rule of thumb, gifts and money that has been deposited in a joint account or used for joint purposes is considered joint marital property. I would definitely need more information to gain a clearer picture of your specific circumstances, but generally speaking, it might be divisible property.

For an example, we can look at Trattles v. Trattles 126 Wis. 2d 219, 376 N.W.2d 379 (Ct. App. 1985). This individual had a similar situation involving gifts from a father. The courts did decide that, since the gifts and money was used for joint purposes, it was in fact divisible joint property. Every case is different, however, and this does not mean your case will end with this same result.

My advice is to consult an experienced family law attorney to assist you with the details, and to advise you on the best course of action moving forward.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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