– from Paula W. in Elm Grove, WI


Question Details:

During my marriage, I received an inheritance when my father passed away. I deposited this money in my personal account rather than a joint one. Using that money, I purchased property with two homes on the lot. My husband and I moved into one home, and rent out the other. My husband and I both work for a living. We both deposit a set amount into a joint account and place the rest of our individual earnings into separate personal accounts. We are now looking to get divorced for personal reasons. He feels that half the property belongs to him. Is property I purchased with inherited money divisible marital property?

Family Law Attorney Response:

It is actually very specific to individual cases. The fact that you keep your money separate and only deposit common monies into a joint account works to your favor. The fact that you deposited the inherited money into a personal account and solely bought the property also works in your favor. The question now would be whether or not the court would find the excess value after the buying price is eligible for exclusion.

The value of the property excluding the buying price would be an overage amount that may be considered divisible. Such as in the case of Torgerson v. Torgerson 128 Wis. 2d 465, 383 N.W.2d 506 (Ct. App. 1986). In this case, however, both the wife and the husband signed the mortgage. On appeal from the original decision, the court decided that the value portion of the property – in excess of the down payment – is in fact a marital asset.

I would say to contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your property division case right away.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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