What Happens to Gifts From Parents in a Divorce?

A divorce is a complex event with many considerations as you separate from your spouse. In addition to issues such as child custody and alimony, there is also the question of what to do with possessions and other assets. When deciding who gets what, one area of the separation to be noticed is protecting gifts from divorce. When getting divorced, with all the different things to keep track of and the general stress, what happens to parents’ gifts in a divorce? It can easily be overlooked. This will leave you wondering what gifts are from parents’ marital property in New Jersey. Also, you will wonder why gifts are considered marital assets. To seek answers to these and various other questions, please continue reading!

Protecting Gifts During Divorce Proceedings

At MFR Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers, we’re here to help you with every aspect of your divorce in New Jersey. While many of your possessions can have sentimental value, those you received from your parents can carry a great deal of importance and are often the most valuable times you own. Maybe the gift was in financial form and it is the source of contention between you and your parent or between you and your spouse. These gifts can include valuable items, unique items, cash gifts, property, investment assets, trusts, and an inheritance meant to be left to you. No matter what it is, you want to ensure it is protected during a divorce.

New Jersey Law

In New Jersey, when getting divorced, assets are divided between divorcing spouses under the rule of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution means that assets are subject to being fairly divided when a couple gets divorced, which may not be equally. Assets considered when divorcing can include items such as:
  • Property
  • Physical possessions
  • Automobiles
  • Financial accounts, and more.
receiving gifts from parents

Gifts From Parents: Can Gifts Be Split in a Divorce?

In many cases, any gifts you alone receive from your parents will not be subject to equitable distribution law. While other shared assets are considered for equitable distribution, gifts often are defined explicitly as separate property. When an item is defined as separate property by state law, it will remain the sole property of the spouse who received it as a gift. Items that qualify as separate property if given as a gift include the following:
  • Any gifts you received before the date of the marriage
  • Gifts you received during the wedding that were only made for or meant for you (donor intent)
  • Any gifts you received from your parents through an inheritance and you kept those funds separate and didn’t utilize them to purchase marital items or use it to sustain your lifestyle.
To simplify, if you received a gift from your parents at any time, and it was apparent the gift was only meant for you, the general rule is that it is defined as separate property and is not subject to equitable distribution.

Situations Where this Rule Does Not Apply

In the general sense, there are two exceptions to this rule. First, if the gifted assets were commingled with marital assets, then these added assets might be treated as marital property. For example, the most common occurrence is if you receive a sum of money as a gift and deposit it into a joint checking, savings, or brokerage account. Then it can become a marital asset as it has now been mixed with other shared funds in an account that is also considered property of your spouse. If you comingled it for just a short period of time, get into an attorney’s office pronto. The longer the money sits there in a joint account, the worse it is to argue it should be separate property. The second exception to this rule is if inherited assets are improved using jointly-owned funds. For instance, if you receive a vacation home and use your joint savings account to make improvements to it, the vacation property can be considered marital property. A key aspect of establishing a gift as a separate property involves having the proper documentation to support your argument. If your divorce is amicable, then the resulting amicable divorce negotiations will likely go smoothly, and you won’t need to go to great lengths to prove that the item you’re looking to separate from equitable distribution was a gift. However, not all divorces go smoothly. In some cases, you must prove your rights and be properly prepared to do so. Supporting documentation can include pre-marriage bank statements, property deeds, text messages, email records, and other supporting evidence. You want to use every evidence available when it comes to the things you value most. At MFR Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers, we help you protect valuable gifts from the divorce proceedings and keep what is yours.

Protecting Gifts that are Defined as Marital Assets

When a gift has become a marital asset due to commingling or using shared funds for the improvement, or if it was originally given as a joint gift, there are possible ways to keep possession following your divorce. A divorce is often a negotiation between both spouses, especially as it relates to the distribution of marital property. Remember, your spouse likely has assets they want to keep as well andthings that are a priority to them. If you have sufficient assets to effect an equitable distribution, a deal can likely be reached. One such way to do this is to split your assets with your spouse, so you receive the shared gift you wish to keep (such as the summer home) and they receive assets that total the value of this item. By being open to negotiation, you both get to keep the things that matter most while, also allowing for a fair distribution of marital assets.

When You Need Legal Representation

Divorces can be time consuming and complex, and when you’re getting divorced, you need experienced legal representation to walk you through the process. When you need professional legal advice on protecting parental gifts from divorce, contact MFR Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers today for an initial case evaluation. Call us today at (201) 880-9770 to learn more, or contact us online to see how we can help you keep the items you treasure most.

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