Generally, Iowa law states that gifts and inheritance a divorcing spouse received before or during the course of the marriage are considered separate property of the person who received them and will be treated as his or her separate property. Consequently, said gifted or inherited property in this scenario would not be categorized as “marital assets” subject to equitable division in the divorce case.
There is, however, an exception to this rule that allows a court to exercise discretion to potentially include certain gifted or inherited property in the martial estate. One such situation comes into play when the party making the gift or bequest expressly intends to include both spouses as recipients of the gift or bequest. When there is not a clear-cut gift or bequest to both spouses, courts analyze the following factors in making the final determination of whether or not to classify gifted or inherited property as a marital asset:
- Contributions of each spouse toward the care, preservation, or improvement of the property;
- Existence of any independent close relationship between the person making the gift and the spouse of party to whom the property was given or devised;
- Separate contributions by each spouse to their economic welfare to whatever extent those contributions preserve the property for either of them; and
- Any special needs of either spouse.
It is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you determine if this exception can potentially apply in your situation. Should you require additional information on this topic, please feel free to contact Simpson Legal Group, LLC, at (712) 256-9899.