Will Keeping Bank Accounts & Property Separate During Marriage Protect My Money in Divorce?
As attorneys who focus on family law, one question that we frequently encounter from clients is how to protect their money during marriage, especially when it comes to clients who are thinking about seeking out a prenuptial agreement. While some financial advisors may tell clients that simply keeping their bank accounts and finances separate instead of having a joint bank account–as well as having only their name on an account or piece of property–will provide sufficient protection in case of divorce, it is important to note that this is not actually the case, including in states such as Florida, which base division of assets accrued during marriage on equitable distribution. In a nutshell, unless there is a prenuptial agreement in place dictating otherwise, divorce attorneys are typically able to argue that any assets acquired during the marriage by either spouse should be considered marital property and thus subject to fair or “equitable” division in states like Florida. In fact, judges might even decide that a spouse’s separate property should be used to fund settlement that’s fair to both individuals; as we discuss below.
Is It Completely Useless to Keep Separate Bank Accounts?
That being said, keeping funds in separate accounts can be helpful in some circumstances, especially if you need some funds quickly as you begin the divorce process. This includes having at least one bank account and credit card in your name only. Regardless of how asset division is handled once the divorce is underway in the courts, you do not want to end up with one spouse having all the control of the bank accounts and credit cards, as this may require you to go to court to get orders for assistance with everyday expenses, such as the mortgage or childcare.
Still, Proceed With Caution When It Comes To Inheritance
Also note that, regardless of whether or not you pursue or prenuptial agreement, it is incredibly important that you keep any inheritance completely separate. This includes not using any marital assets to improve any inherited property, for example, or including your spouse on titles, or doing anything else that could be considered commingling the property with marital funds and or your spouse. It can be extremely difficult years later to trace where money connected to that inheritance came from.
A Prenuptial Agreement Is The Safest Method
Regardless, the very best way for you to protect yourself–especially if you have brought a significant amount of funds or property to the marriage–is to get a prenuptial agreement. While you may assume that this could create tension in your relationship, in fact, many couples find that having a frank discussion about finances before they get married–or even after–is helpful.
Contact Our Florida Family Law Firm
If you live in Florida and have any questions about divorce, prenuptial agreements, or any other family law topic, contact our experienced Coral Springs and Boca Raton family attorneys at the Williams & Varsegi, LLC, for assistance.