Divorce: Belief that separate accounts protect assets is myth

Even though people who are opting to marry have the expectation of living happily ever after, many still have a realistic view on the potential outcomes. That is, many people getting married are aware that as life events occur and changes them, they may no longer be as compatible as they once were. As such, some in Missouri will take precautions before they say their vows to protect their assets in the event their marriage should end in divorce.

Reports indicate that some couples are choosing to keep their bank accounts separate in an attempt to ease asset division in the event of a divorce. In some instances, adults who are children of divorce may be interested in taking measures to protect themselves. However,  while there could be psychological benefits of keeping separate accounts by potentially reducing conflict on how money is spent on personal expenses, there is likely little legal benefit.

Some surveys indicate that over 25% of couples are choosing separate accounts. However, even in states like Missouri that are equitable distribution states (in which assets are divided equitably, rather than equally) separate accounts or having only one person’s name on the deed of a home, for example, does not protect the asset from division, depending on the underlying circumstances. In fact, a judge could even determine that a person’s separate property must be used as part of a settlement with the other spouse.

While keeping assets separate may not protect them as some people believe, there are steps that a person can take that could help. For example, many people in Missouri attempt to safeguard their assets in the event of a divorce by creating a prenuptial agreement before marriage. For couples who feel that a prenup is not the best option for them, measures such as printing out account statements prior to the wedding may be able to support future claims regarding separate, nonmarital assets.

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