Pre-marriage assets and inheritance – are they included in a divorce settlement?

Assets owned before a marriage or inherited during a marriage can often become a focal point when discussing how the assets on divorce should be shared between a couple.

In meetings we often find ourselves explaining the relevant law so that couples can understand how these types of assets are treated. Couples want to know whether they must be shared on divorce.

What are inherited and pre-marital assets?

Put simply, it is money inherited from someone who has died or assets that one spouse owned before they got married. They can include assets that have been integral to a couple’s life, such as a house, pension assets, trust assets or money received from a previous divorce settlement. This can become quite a complex area of law though if there pre-marital assets include a business or land run or owned before the current relationship began.

What happens to these assets?

A good starting point is to look at how this type of asset has been treated during the marriage. Sometimes, you will hear lawyers talk about assets being “mingled”. If money has, for example, been inherited and used to purchase or renovate a family home it may not now be possible to separate out that money and ask for it back before anything else is shared on divorce.

Often, the starting point is looking at everyone’s needs to see if they can be met from matrimonial assets that exist without having to use the pre-marital or inherited assets. If everyone’s needs can be met, then it may be possible to run an argument that any pre-marital assets or inherited assets should not be shared on divorce.

Sometimes a couple may have what is called a pre-marital agreement or a post-marital agreement and those types of agreements need to be carefully considered too.

It is important that the fairness of any final agreement you may be able to reach is looked at as well and this is something we help couples with in mediation.

If you would like to know more about whether mediation might be able to help you and your spouse sort out your financial arrangements on divorce so that you can then have a legally binding agreement recording an agreement you can book a free call on our website – Or, if you prefer, you can call us on 0800 2062258 or email us at

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