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Steps that can help protect separate finances in divorce

| Jul 1, 2019 | Divorce |

Some married millennials in Virginia may be among the 28% that a Bank of America survey says are keeping separate bank accounts. However, this may not protect them from having to split them as joint assets in case of divorce.

Virginia is an equitable property state, and this means that most of the time, a couple’s separate earnings are considered individually in divorce. Marital assets are supposed to be divided equitably. However, some experts say couples should not assume that their separate bank accounts will be considered separate property. An attorney could successfully argue that these are marital assets that should be split. Separate accounts can be useful in divorce because they may ensure that both people have access to their own money to pay for divorce costs, but a prenup may provide more protection in a divorce.

Couples who do not want a prenup may still want to keep records of the assets they bring into the marriage. Another precaution is keeping inheritances separate from marital finances. An inheritance is generally considered to be individual property, but this can become more complex if it is used for home renovations or for another marital asset. At this point, the inheritance could be “commingled,” and it might be subject to division.

Spouses may choose to try to negotiate an agreement for property division without going to court. Otherwise, they may need to enter litigation. While negotiating may be less expensive and may help a couple reach an amicable agreement, it does require the participation of both parties. If one person is simply uncooperative or negotiations break down, it might be necessary to go to court. An attorney may be able to help a person prepare for either negotiation or litigation.