How Does a Family Law Court View a Sudden Inheritance?
When a de facto relationship or a marriage ends in separation, this will often result in a protracted period of uncertainty. Both parties will have to assess the situation and decide what to do, and it's far from unusual for disagreements to arise. Many of these arguments involve finances, of course, and the matter may need to go in front of a court to decide who gets what. However, the situation may become even more unclear if one of the parties receives a sudden inheritance; so, how will the court view this when dividing those assets?
In the event of sudden death, one of the parties may inherit a sizeable amount of money, which may substantially change their financial situation. Until that point, they may not have had a lot to contribute to the asset pot, and this development may now affect how the other party views the situation during settlement. Therefore, it's not unusual for the other party to insist that this inheritance be taken into account by the court. They may argue that this changes everything and that they should be liable for less as a consequence.
Understanding the Law
Australian law is not entirely clear about this type of event. At one time, a sudden inheritance would have been outside the scope of any discussion, and this would have simply been "force majeure" even if it represented a sizeable benefit to one party. These days, however, a court may be more inclined to consider the inheritance and make it part of the asset pool.
Yet, that doesn't mean that it should be split 50-50 to the benefit of both parties. A court should still take into account the point at which the inheritance was received and whether the relationship was, effectively, over at that stage. They need to consider the contribution that the beneficiary made to the relationship in the latter stages. Consequently, they may decide to give the lion's share of the inheritance to the beneficiary instead.
Stating the Case
As you can imagine, this can be controversial, and the outcome will never be cut and dried. This is why it is so important for you to get legal representation if you find yourself in this position. A family lawyer will weigh up all the elements, help you to put the case forward properly and aim to get the best possible outcome. Contact a local family lawyer to learn more.