5 Things to Know About Separate Bank Accounts and Divorce

Getting a divorce isn't easy for most people. Not only is this an emotional upheaval, but it can also be a financial challenge. A major decision you must make as you prepare for and during your divorce is whether or not to separate your finances from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Does separating finances help you? And how can you take extra steps to protect yourself? Here are a few things to know.

1. Separate Accounts Aren't All Yours

The first important thing to understand about divorce is that physically separating accounts or assets doesn't affect marital division. While marital assets and community property are handled differently according to state law, the actual name on the account doesn't necessarily indicate whose money it is. 

2. Separate Accounts Help You Start Again

Just because you can't horde separate money just for yourself doesn't mean individual bank accounts can't help you. First, they provide peace of mind and the ability to control your own money. You don't have to worry about a spouse draining your paycheck or gambling with your income. It also helps you start to think about your own finances and future. 

3. Separate Accounts Protect Non-Marital Assets

One area in which separated financial accounts do come in handy is when the assets are non-marital. Non-marital assets are those that one party owned prior to the marriage and which were not commingled with marital funds. It can also include things like inheritances acquired during the marriage but which are not designed to be joint. The best place to keep anything you believe will be non-marital assets is in an account solely in your name. 

4. Separate Accounts Complement Joint Accounts

As you disentangle yourself from a marital relationship, you may have a number of joint expenses that must be maintained until your divorce is final (or even afterward). Many couples who can co-manage these expenses or assets use a joint account specifically for them. Both parties deposit an agreed-upon amount into the account and only pay agreed-upon joint expenses. This is a good way to prevent conflict.

5. Separate Accounts Should Be Taken in Counsel

Before you move any money or assets pending a divorce, discuss it with legal counsel. You don't want to make the wrong move and be accused of trying to hide marital assets, for example. And some money moves could be misinterpreted by a spouse and cause even more emotional conflict. Your attorney can even be a go-between if needed.

Where to Start

As mentioned, the best place to begin is by meeting with a divorce lawyer in your state. With their help and these tips, you can protect your finances while facilitating a smooth and low-stress divorce.