Can I Keep Assets Held In a Separate Bank Account In a Divorce?
You know that marital assets all have to be divided up in a divorce, but what about the accounts that only have your name on them? A separate bank account that is only in your name must be your asset alone, right? Things are not actually this simple. A separate bank account can easily become marital property. Our Morris County, NJ divorce lawyers can help you learn more about the property division process and fight for an outcome that best protects your assets.
Can a Separate Bank Account in My Name Be a Marital Asset?
Your joint bank account with your spouse is obviously going to be marital property. It has both of your names on it. You both use it or deposit money into it. So if you have an account that only has your name on it, then shouldn’t it be just your property instead of a marital asset?
That just is not how this works. When you are a married couple, anything you gain is seen as a marital asset. This includes shared assets, like houses or property, but it can also include assets and money that you gain on your own. So if you earn an income during your marriage, that is marital property. If you put that income into your separate bank account, it is still a marital asset.
What If I Had a Separate Bank Account Before I Got Married?
If you had this separate bank account before you got married, you may actually be able to keep that separate from your other assets. There are some rules to follow though. You cannot:
Deposit marital property: As we discussed earlier, this includes any income you earn when you are married.
Put your spouse’s name on the account: If you put your spouse on the account for any reason, it becomes marital property.
Put shared gifts or inheritance in the account: If you receive an inheritance or gift that is just for you, that can go into your separate bank account. If you deposit a shared gift, like a check with you and your spouse’s name on it, you have commingled your assets.
Should I Make a Separate Bank Account When Getting a Divorce?
You should still open a separate bank account when getting a divorce though. This can help you better manage your assets and get ready for a life without a joint account. You can take the time to set up new payment settings on various accounts and remove your spouse from anything that they should not have access to, like streaming services or other online accounts.
Just do not start a new account and fill it with money from the joint account. Leaving your spouse high and dry with an empty bank account is not a good idea. The court is sure to frown upon the behavior, and you may be making the property division process worse for yourself.
Schedule a Consultation
If you want to learn more about property division and how you can protect yourself during a divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark. Our experienced lawyers are ready to guide you through this complicated process.