What happens to parental gifts in a divorce?

You got married five years ago. Your parents generously gave you enough money to cover the down payment on a home, the mortgage payments for the first year and all related costs. They knew that you and your new spouse did not have enough saved up, so they helped you get your new life started.

Now, you and your spouse are planning to get divorced. It just did not work out. Neither of you can afford to keep the home alone, so you are going to sell it and split up the money that you make.

What does that mean for the gift from your parents? Can you get that money back to keep it in the family? Or is it going to get divided between you and your spouse? Clearly, your parents' intent was not to simply give half of the money to your ex as he or she moves on and out of your lives.

Unfortunately, if your parents gave you the money as a gift, that is likely what is going to happen. You both used the money to buy your marital home, and it is an asset owned by both of you. The funds were quickly commingled as you spent them together, and then you spent the last four years paying that mortgage out of your joint accounts.

Even though the initial gift came from your parents, it became your spouse's property as well, and he or she still has a right to the resulting money, after the sale of your house, in the divorce.

The financial side of a divorce can often get complicated. Be sure you know your rights.

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