Many people, myself included, tend to prefer the idea of combined accounts. It seems less divisive, and more unified – acting as “one”, so to speak. Is that the hopeless romantic side of me? 🙂 However, any others find that completely suffocating, and just need the feeling of freedom. The desire to have some individual autonomy is often strong in many people, and that’s a part of their individuality.
However it’s done, I think that there is one important factor for people to keep in mind if taking on separate accounts. It may not be something anyone really wants to think about, but perhaps it should at least be somewhere in the back of your mind.
What is it? Well, it’s the reality that your separate accounts might really be marital property no matter how much you want to keep it for yourself.
I’m not a legal expert (see one in your location if you need specific advice), so don’t take it as such. But my understanding is that marital income is general marital property. At least in the sense of income from wages earned during the marriage. If you earned it, the money belongs equally to your spouse. And vice-versa.
Let’s say after marriage you arrange direct deposit of your paycheck into a bank account in your name only. And your spouse does the same thing in his account. Then, you divide up expenses based on your own method of doing so, and pay from your separate accounts. Or, perhaps you each transfer funds into a joint account and pay joint bills from there.
Either way, you end up with residual funds that are in a bank account in your name only. Again, presumably based on money that was directly earned by you, and direct deposited into the account. Let’s say that the two of you agree that the leftover funds are for each of you alone, based on what is in the respective bank accounts.
Then, let’s say that the relationship meets an untimely demise. As I said before, not something people want to keep in the forefront of their minds, but you never know – crazy, unplanned outcomes can happen to people.
In this case, you just might find out that money in each account is marital property. So if one person had $50,000 saved and the other had $10,000 saved, it would mean $60,000 of marital property to be divided. It very well might be that each person walks away with $30,000.
What if the “separate” accounts included funds that were already there, from before the couple got married. In this case, these funds just might be considered commingled. Thus, even if you think it’s separate, it might not be. It could be joint property.
Yes, I know that these aren’t exactly exciting things to think about.
However, it’s good for people with separate finances to keep in mind. For all the feeling of individual autonomy and control that separate accounts provide, it might all be more psychological than anything else. Ultimately, a marriage is more than two independent people cohabitating. It has some legal and highly non-romantic aspects to it that almost make it like a business in certain respects, and each person might want to consider acknowledging that facet of it.
I think that keeping this reality in mind can at least put things into perspective for a couple when deciding on what “his” money is and what “her” money is. Because ultimately, it just might be both of yours anyway! Which should provide some more motivation to accept the need to compromise on finances when in a relationship!
My Questions for You
Which do you prefer: separate accounts, or totally joint finances?
Do you ever think about the notion that regardless of the action of keeping separate accounts, much of it just might be joint anyway?
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