Divorce can be a stressful and emotional endeavor, especially when it comes to deciding how to divide your shared property. Even when a divorce is relatively amicable, negotiating property division can cause emotions to flare. It can be especially disheartening when you find yourself in the middle of an argument about gifts that were given to you during your marriage. You may have received these items from your spouse or other family members as presents for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays, and they may carry special meaning to you. Or perhaps you received an inheritance from a relative and you are now concerned that your inheritance may be divided with your ex. It’s natural then to wonder what will happen to the gifts and inheritances that you’ve received.
Gifts and Property Division in North Carolina
In North Carolina divorces, all marital assets are subject to division by the court. This means property (real estate, cars) and anything else that was acquired during a marriage must be evaluated and divided fairly between both parties according to the principle of equitable distribution. Generally speaking, anything acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
Gifts, however, are considered differently. Whether a gift was acquired before or during a marriage, it is typically treated as “separate property” and is not subject to division by a court. This means that if the gift was given to you by your spouse or another family member, it will remain yours after the divorce is finalized.
When a Gift Is Not a Gift
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If a gift was given during the marriage and used as marital property (i.e., a car that was owned jointly), then it may be considered part of the marital estate and subject to division by the court. Additionally, if a gift was given prior to the marriage but co-mingled with other assets during the marriage, then it could also be considered part of the marital estate. Situations like these are often referred to as transmutation because they involve a change of the character of the property.
It's also important to be sure that you can prove that a gift was given to you as an individual and not to you and your spouse as a couple. If the gift is given to both of you and it's subsequently used for a shared purpose, it could be considered marital property.
For these reasons, it is important to have an experienced divorce attorney in your corner that can advocate for your interests during negotiations regarding gifts and other property division issues. The attorneys at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC have years of experience helping clients in Tennessee divorce cases and can help you make sure you get what is rightfully yours.
What About My Wedding Ring?
Typically, wedding rings are considered a gift to the receiver, and they are not subject to division by a court. This is true even if the other spouse purchased the ring or gave it as a gift during the marriage. However, if that ring was a family heirloom from your spouse's side of the family, then the court may decide to grant ownership to your spouse.
Writing Gifts into Your Divorce Agreement
If you'd like to keep a particular gift that was given to you during your marriage, it's important to ensure that it is mentioned in the divorce agreement. This will provide further protection and make sure that any disputes are settled quickly and efficiently.
How Jetton & Meredith, PLLC Can Help You Navigate Your Divorce
The division of gifts and assets during a divorce can be a contentious issue. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC we understand how difficult and emotional navigating the divorce process can be, especially when issues regarding gifts arise. Our experienced attorneys have years of experience helping clients in North Carolina divorce cases and will be able to provide you with sound legal advice so that you can protect your interests throughout the proceedings.
Contact us online or call us at (704) 931-5535 for further information on how we can help protect your interests during your divorce.