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Keeping assets separate: Does it help make divorce easier?

Earlier this summer, NBC reported that a current trend is changing the way couples approach finances that could impact a marriage--as well as a divorce.

The study found that more couples nowadays choose not to combine their bank accounts when they get married. Instead, they keep their bank accounts and even credit card accounts separate.

According to NBC, many of the people choosing to keep their assets separate are children of divorce. They think that keeping their finances separate from their partner's will reduce the complex issues of the property division process in the event of a divorce.

Many people might wonder: is this really true?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to that question, but here is a quick look at some of the myths regarding this current trend.

Myth #1: Keeping separate bank accounts reduces conflict

It is possible that maintaining separate bank accounts might help reduce conflict--both in the marriage as well as in a potential divorce. This is because both spouses would maintain control over their own financial matters.

However, Forbes reported that several couples are running into more conflicts because they do not discuss important financial matters--especially when they have separate accounts. 

Myth #2: Separate finances mean separate property

This is possibly the most dangerous myth of this current trend. Many couples believe that keeping their finances separate will protect their bank account or property during a divorce, but this is not necessarily true.

Simply because one spouse earned the income, or an asset is in one spouse's name does not necessarily mean it qualifies as separate property in a divorce. Property that spouses keep separate could still be considered marital property if they acquired it during the marriage. This would make it subject to North Carolina's equitable distribution process.

Myth #3: Separate finances make property division easier in divorce

If separate finances does not mean separate property, then keeping assets separate will likely not have a significant difference in the property division process. 

However, there are ways that individuals can prepare their finances for property division. Regardless of whether couples choose to keep their assets separate or combine them into a joint account, it can be helpful to:

  • Consider establishing a marital agreement 
  • Maintain accurate financial records
  • Keep an inventory of all the assets kept separate

Different couples might choose different financial arrangements that protect their own best interests. Either way, divorcing spouses must pay close attention to how they manage their finances to help make the property division process less stressful. 

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