Ending a marriage may take its toll on your emotions, your finances, and your time. There are a lot of considerations and actions to take during a divorce process. You may have a lot of questions in your mind about these.
However, if you are confused about how bank accounts split in a divorce, then you are in the right place. Because this article contains everything, you need to know regarding this topic.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Who owns the Money after Marriage?
If couples establish a bank account while the married life begins, they have to divide those accounts equally while seeking a divorce. Both parties own marital property. So, what marital property is? Well, some of the accounts that contain the matrimonial fund are called marital property.
Bank accounts in the eyes of courts and divorce lawyers are two different categories- separate property and community property. When it comes to the separate property, this means, couples who each side own any separate property would keep their specific property accounts or property.
On the other hand, couples break the money into halves between them (e.g., money in a bank account). The person who will be announced to be the owner of the separate property will get the individual property by judges.
It’s not Split, its Community Money
Community money is a type of joint ownership of assets between married couples. Although the laws in community property states will vary in their finer details, community property means all the assets acquired or purchased. At the same time, they are married owned equally by both of them.
For example, you purchased a car while married will be a community vehicle. Now, if you say that ‘I purchased the car using my credit card and the vehicle is titled in my name!’ Then still, it is community property.
During a divorce procedure, community property will be equally divided unless there are claims of marital waste. For the clearance, marital waste is when a spouse spends community money or property irresponsibly for his/her sole benefit.
Hence, gifts and inheritances are exceptional. In case, someone specifically gives something to just one spouse, which is his/her ‘separate’ property. And, if a spouse who came into the marriage with her past owned property, it’s his/hers alone (regardless of whether they are married at that time).
An example of this situation is, you came into that marriage with a bank account that worth a certain amount of money. During the wedding, you never included the name of your spouse to that bank account. Remember, this bank account might be declared the separate property as well as not subject to being divided equally in a divorce.
Community property law includes debts- yes, any debt incurred during the marriage is considered community property of the couple and will have to be divided. While walking through this process, hiring a divorce attorney will be of significant value.
What to Do with a Joint Account during a Divorce Proceeding?
Generally, joint bank accounts have two or more owners, and each of the owners has full right to deposit, withdraw, and otherwise manage the account’s funds. Once an account is established, each account holder will be able to close the invoice entirely.
If you think about what you should do with a joint account during a divorce proceeding, then there’s a lot to think about. First of all, let’s get to know how you can secure your assets while divorcing:
- Open an account in your name to establish your very own financial identity
- Calculate your net worth ahead of time and list every debt and asset in your name
- You might be required for staying separated for 6 months before you’re able to pursue (legally) a divorce- keep track of the date of separation
- Set a budget to set your financial goals
And, what you should avoid is not to empty the account while the divorce procedure is ongoing. Generally, a judge orders an ATRO (Automatic Temporary Restraining Order) at the starting of the divorce procedure, and it restricts any of the parties from withdrawing money without pre-approval.
So, if you empty that account while the divorce is running, you must pay back that money otherwise, give up any other marital property just to balance the amount you withdrew.
Separate Accounts is not separate at all
Wait, what? The separate account is not separate at all? Why? Well, to understand it properly, you have to know about the term ‘commingling.’ Mainly, all the property you own before marriage is legally referred to as ‘separate property.’
After your wedding, the separate property remains separate until it’s commingled (with any separate property is owned by your spouse). Suppose, the two of you BOTH start paying the mortgage of your pre-owned home, then ‘commingling’ will occur. Because, at this time, the home will become ‘marital property.’ However, commingling can occur in many ways. Such as:
Suppose, you have added the name of your spouse to your own bank account that is worth a certain amount of money. Not only this, but you both also use that account for a deposit paycheck or/and pay bills- the original amount has been commingled.
In case you didn’t add the name of your spouse to your account. However, you both use that account for a deposit paycheck or/and pay bills; still, the genuine amount has been commingled.
So, to avoid commingling:
- You better keep your name in your account, do not add your spouse’s name
- Use marital (not separate property) to pay matrimonial debts
- Obtain a prenuptial agreement
- Consult an attorney
So, this is all we stored for you. Hopefully, by reading this article, you are no longer confused about how bank accounts split in a divorce. However, before wrapping up, we would like to give you a piece of advice.
Always remember to store financial records in detail from each of the bank accounts before, during the marriage, and even after your wedding. These records will help you every step of the divorce process because most of the divorce attorneys use the records to stand by you. Good luck!