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Is inheritance part of the marital assets?

I inherited some art work during my marriage (from my mother) and am now thinking about a divorce. Will my husband get any of my paintings?

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MA courts have very broad discretion regarding division of property under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 sec. 34. Assets that you and your spouse accrued during your marriage are typically "marital assets" under Massachusetts law and subject to division in the divorce process.  Massachusetts divorce courts will often, but not always, allow one spouse to keep "separate property" that she owned before the marriage or that she received as an inheritance or gift.  This concept of separate property can become confusing when an item or piece of property is sold and the proceeds are co-mingled with other marital assets during the marriage.  However, even if a court determines that an item should be considered a marital asset, marital assets are not always split 50/50 (you get one painting, he gets the next).  Massachusetts law simply requires an equitable division of assets

Through court proceedings or negotiation an experienced attorney should be able to help you keep your paintings.  It sounds like they are important to you for non-monetary reasons, so good luck.  Please tell your friends about The Forum.  For more information or to post a question, visit our Massachusetts Divorce Law Discussion Forum.


Like most legal answers: it would depend. There are at least many factors that are examined in an equitable distribution of marriage assets. These include: length of marriage, age of parties, health, station in life, occupation(s), future needs of children, etc. As a result, if these works are part of the "marital assets" they could have value that could end up in division. However, this is not to state that in practice this would actually happen. These type of items can be part of a separation agreement between the parties and since your inherited the works, you would certainly have an argument that they should be yours. For example, your spouse may have his own “inherited” items that he would retain. The best advice is to speak with an attorney before you file to gain a better understanding of what might happen with this inheritance in the event you do file for divorce.

I wish you the Best, Matthew Barach, ESQ

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