Joint accounts or separate accounts? This is a question that will face every couple that gets married.
For some, it’s an easy question to answer, and there is no doubt what the couple will do. Many people believe in joint finances as the default option, where people operate as a true partnership with everything within marriage shared. Others have a strong sense of autonomy and want to go the route of separate finances. Yet others fall in between, with a joint account for the couple yet separate accounts for spending money. Sometimes the issue of gender roles and money might even come into play with certain couples.
Clearly, there are different ways to handle the subject of sharing money in marriage.
However, I wonder if the notion of separate finances is really a fallacy. In other words, are all accounts joint whether you intend them to be or not?
Let’s say a couple gets married, and opens up a joint bank account to pay the bills. However, they have completely separate individual accounts in which they deposit their paychecks. They simply take a sum of money out of their individual accounts each month and transfer to the joint account to pay those bills. This would be a hybrid approach to which I alluded above.
Then, let’s say that the couple unfortunately has major problems, and the relationship ends up going south. Sadly, they become a statistic and end up going through a divorce.
In that case, let’s also suppose that the husband made more money than the wife (or vice-versa, I just had to pick one side as an example), and had much more money saved in his individual account than she did. He made more and saved more, while she made less and enjoyed spending money. He might think he could keep what’s in his account for himself, while she does the same with her account, and they will then split the joint account equally.
While I would recommend talking to a professional for the exact right answer – not me (disclaimer) – it seems to me that they husband would be wrong in this case. My suspicion here is that if money was earned during the marriage, and kept in an individual account, those earnings might still have be split evenly with the other party.
If this is truly the case, does this make separate finances unsupportable in the event of problems? Not that anyone wishes for this, and hopefully most people don’t expect this. Regardless, it seems like money earned in marriage is shared, thus individual accounts might as well be treated as joint accounts.
My Questions for You
Following this logic, are separate accounts illogical?
If they are ultimately treated as joint, does it still make sense for people to individual, separate accounts during marriage?