older couple facing different directions

Property division and distribution is always one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce. One thing we hear often at our firm is “This was a gift to me. Can I keep it in a divorce?” In many cases, you can actually keep the gifts that were given to you while you were married after your divorce. However, there are some situations where this can get complicated, which is why consulting our Sparta property distribution attorneys can be a wise idea.

What Happens to Gifts That I Recieve While Married?

Generally, if you were given a gift and it was clear that the gift was for you specifically, then it is yours to keep after a divorce. If the gift was not for the couple, it does not go into the pile of things that need to be split up when the property is distributed.

So if you receive a birthday gift from a sibling or a holiday gift from a friend and there is no indication that the gift is also for your spouse, then it is yours after a split. This can also apply to inheritances and gifts of money. If the money was clearly meant for you then it is separate property, not marital property.

There is an exception to this general rule though. If your spouse gave you a gift it is likely that it will be considered marital property. This can apply to jewelry, artwork, vehicles, expensive electronics, and just about anything else that you can think of that would be given as a gift. Most of the time, a gift from your spouse is something that needs to be split up when the property is being distributed to each partner. An item can be sold and the money can be divided equally, or there can be tradeoffs of certain belongings based on their value.

What if Gifts are Given to Both Spouses and They Divorce?

A gift that is clearly given to both spouses would likely need to be part of the property distribution process in a divorce. Unless one of you has a way to prove that the gift was just meant for one person, it is marital property.

Can Separate Property Become Marital Property?

When you receive a gift, you should take steps to ensure that this separate property does not become marital property. Let’s say you are gifted a vacation home, but you put the deed in your and your spouse’s names. Or let’s say you inherit a sum of money and put it in a joint account. You have just made it possible for a spouse to plausibly claim a share of these items if you divorce.

Consult With a Division of Assets Attorney

If you have any questions about how property can be divided or you just want to know how to best protect your own items in a divorce, we can help. Contact the Paris P. Eliades Law Firm, LLC and learn more about what our compassionate property distribution lawyers can do to assist you.