More and more, people are building their own lives before they get married. You may be among those who finished their educations, established their careers and perhaps even purchased property before tying the knot. You certainly have your own bank accounts, and when you and your spouse married, you may have agreed to keep your own savings and checking accounts.
This is common, and many couples believe that these accounts not only help them maintain control over their financial lives but also protect them financially if they should ever divorce. Unfortunately, this is not always a foolproof way of securing your future in the event that your marriage breaks up.
Community property laws
You may have witnessed your own parents' divorce and the struggle that likely followed. Like many of those in their 20s and 30s, you and your spouse wanted to keep your money separate to avoid the same financial issues your parents faced after their divorce. However, this is an assumption that often leaves couples unprepared for the way a divorce may play out. In many cases, keeping separate bank accounts is more psychological comfort than financial security.
Texas, for example, is a community property state. This means that the law considers the money you earn while you are married to belong jointly to both you and your spouse. Putting it into a separate account in your own name will not stop your spouse from pursuing an equal share of it, especially if you used the account for family expenses or if your spouse used his or her money to support you, such as paying certain bills.
The benefits of a separate account
Some couples open a joint account, in addition to their individual accounts, which they then use to pay bills and other common expenses. With both your names on an account, it is possible for one spouse to block access from the other partner or to drain the money from the account, leaving the partner with nothing. Having a separate account can at least provide you with some funds to get you through the tough parts of the divorce process.
What you will want is to ensure you get your fair share of marital assets and that your spouse does not hide funds or prevent you from obtaining what is rightfully yours. With the help of a skilled attorney, you will have a better chance of meeting your goals and moving forward after your divorce with your financial future intact.