When a person receives property as a gift or as an inheritance, it will be that person’s separate property. He or she does not need to share it when a relationship ends.
However, the law treats this form of property differently to other separate property.
Normally, separate property becomes relationship property if it is used to buy assets in the partners’ joint names. But that does not apply if the separate property is a gift or inheritance. The following examples show the difference.
The only way a gift or inheritance can become relationship property is if:
- the property has been mixed with other property so it is impossible to tell which property is which; or
- it is used by the family – for example, the family home or household furniture.
We are looking at whether the law should treat all separate property in the same way. We want to know whether property a partner receives as a gift or inheritance deserves special treatment.