Divorce and Separate Finances

Many married couples decide to deposit their money into a joint bank account, which provides each spouse with equal access to funds for paying major bills and other expenses, such as school fees when children are involved. Others might maintain the majority of their income in a joint account, but utilize a different account for savings and retirement assets. Some married couples, however, have entirely separate bank accounts from the very beginning, which can cause a lot of uncertainty and confusion concerning your financial standpoint within your relationship – especially when it comes to a divorce.

Unfortunately, this happens all too often in divorce cases, both locally in Reno, as well as around the world. 

This also happens to be the unfavorable circumstance of the writer of the featured question on a recent episode of Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show. Jessica Anderson received the following question

“My wife told me last week that she wants a divorce after 10 years of marriage. She won’t agree to try to fix it. She insists on it and I’m in shock. It was out of the blue and I’m still processing it. Luckily we don’t have kids.

She has printed out all of the paperwork online and is really pushing me to sign. It says that I keep my stuff and she keeps hers but we have always had separate finances so I’m not sure what she really has. The paperwork has her keeping the house and buying me out but she is using a Zillow value and with this market, I think it might be worth more. Before telling me that she wanted a divorce she had me file separate taxes. She hasn’t filed for 2021 and I don’t even know her income but she is a professional. What is your advice – should I just sign and get it over with?” 

Does the absence of a joint bank account truly keep money separate during a divorce? Keep reading to find out! 

Firstly, What Is A Joint Bank Account?

When two people create a joint bank account, they each “own” an equal part of the funds available in said account, and have shared access at all times. Without the other’s express consent, either party is allowed to make deposits or withdrawals as needed. 

Money held in joint accounts which is used by both partners is regarded as marital property, and as a result, the funds will be shared equally in the event of a divorce.

Why Do Some Couples Choose To Keep Their Finances Separate?

According to many financial experienceds, the ideal method to manage your money and other assets in a marriage is to keep separate bank accounts, or to use the “yours, mine, and ours” arrangement. As a result, there is an upward trend – especially in younger generations – of couples choosing to keep their bank accounts separate throughout their entire marriage, which never fails to complicate the process of getting divorced. 

Unfortunately, this is the reality of our featured question during this episode of Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show, and, as Jessica mentioned in this episode, this is not uncommon. A lot of people have been choosing to keep their finances separate, especially in the last decade or so. 

However, despite popular belief regarding separate finances as a married couple, the law is rather clear on this point: any assets accumulated during the marriage are presumed to be marital property. Therefore, all income and property accumulated during a marriage is still regarded as a marital asset that must be split evenly, even if spouses maintain separate accounts and make separate payments on their various obligations.

In fact, any money or debt that is considered marital property will normally be distributed fairly and equitably in times of a divorce, regardless of where it is located or whose name it is linked to. In some cases, this makes the divorce process a lot more drawn-out and complicated.

No Two Situations Are The Same

In many instances, when putting the emotional implications aside, divorces can be a relatively straight-forward process – especially when both parties are open and honest about their finances and assets. 

In this episode of Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show, it’s evident that this isn’t the case, as the writer is completely unaware of the financial position of his soon-to-be ex-wife, resulting in a complicated (and potentially messy) divorce process.

Jessica Anderson advises the writer and others in this situation to start by requesting their partner’s bank statements in order to better understand their financial situation together as a couple, enabling them to decide on the most fair settlement agreement for both parties. 

Remember, “you don’t have to sign anything right away”. 

Divorce is difficult and confusing, and the process of dividing marital assets is tainted by emotions, resentment, and injured sentiments. Because of this, dividing up marital property can turn unpleasant if you don’t have the right assistance. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone.

You can better understand your rights and how to handle the division of assets in your divorce with the assistance of your local Reno divorce attorneys at Anderson Keuscher PLLC.

We understand how challenging it is to go through a divorce, which is why every case is handled with care and consideration by our experienced attorneys. We go above and beyond to safeguard our clients’ legal rights and financial interests while assisting them in navigating legal pitfalls.

Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help you.