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Individual Bank Accounts: Do These Fall Under Marital Property?

Are Separate Bank Accounts Marital Property?

For couples facing a divorce, it is common for them to have either or both joint and individual bank accounts. For example, my husband and I have a joint account that we use mainly for bills and savings, but we also have accounts for settling our IRAs. During a divorce, one of the first things a divorce attorney would ask is if they each have a separate account – if yes, this could be a bit more complex.

The Question Is: Whose Money Is It?

Accounts that have been opened after marriage, whether joint or individual, will be equally divided during a divorce. Joint accounts used by the couples are considered conjugal properties; from there, both parties own the money, which will be divided during a divorce. Regarding marriage, the name on the paper serves for formality and documentation purposes, but it isn’t a deciding factor as to “whose” money it is. For both courts and divorce lawyers, consider bank accounts and see them in various ways: separate and company property. Couples share their community properties during a divorce, including the money in their joint account. However, for couples with separate property, such as real estate or a savings account established even before the marriage, the judge may award the separate property to the sole owner.

To know more, you may read NRS 125.210.

Community Money Defined

You’ll often hear your divorce attorney and the courts mention “community” money – often described as assets owned by both parties involved in the marriage. For example, if you’ve made an automobile purchase during your marriage, that is considered community property. If you purchased with a credit card bill to your name, this is still considered community property. That also applies to all properties you’ve purchased while inside the marriage, such as your furniture, the house you bought, bank accounts recently opened during the marriage, and stock purchases. The overall divorce process ideally splits all community property equally to the former couple unless one party would contest there has been a marital waste. Community property doesn’t just apply to assets but also to debts acquired by the couple. It means that whatever debt is left will be equally divided. You must hire a reliable and experienced divorce attorney to help you through this process swiftly and less painlessly. When will your assets be considered separate? Separate assets have been purchased or owned even before the marriage. For example, suppose you had a bank account with $50,000 before getting married, and the account remained under your name without adding your spouse. In that case, there are higher chances that the courts will consider it a separate account and not divide it equally during the divorce.

When Is Separate Account No Longer Considered Separate?

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Property comingling means combining properties or funds into a “common” fund or stock. While this may seem straightforward initially, it gets complicated if separate property is mixed with community property. When this happens, that separate property will be considered community property and equally divided. Comingling may occur in various ways, and a common scenario is when you add your spouse’s name to a bank account you had before you had your marriage. For example, you have a bank account with $50,000 deposited into it. You had it before marriage, added your spouse’s name, and used it as the primary bank account to pay your bills and savings. The original $50,000 will be blended, meaning the $50,000 you initially had is now considered community property. What if you didn’t add your spouse’s name to the account but still used it for bills, expenses, and savings? Commingling may still be possible.

However, in this case, the court will consider the initial $50,000 amount as separate property, and the succeeding amounts afterward will then be community property. Your divorce attorney will be able to make a compelling argument, which bank records can then support. If you wish to learn more about which properties fall under “separate” and “community” assets, please check out one of the articles contributed by one of our experienced divorce lawyers: Division of Property and Debt.

To know more about actions for support, please read NRS 125.190.

Keeping Your Bank Account Separate

There are various ways to keep and retain a bank account separate from the courts: * The account should only be under your name. * The account must not receive incoming money deposits coming from community property. You should only add some money earned during a marriage to your separate account. * Inheritance, gifts, and other given money may go to your separate account. If both spouses’ names are on the gift, it cannot go to a separate account as this may cause commingling. * Always remember to document financial records not just before the wedding but also during and after the marriage. These records can significantly help you in case you’re planning a divorce. Your divorce attorney will use the records to prove that the account must remain separate. Contact our Las Vegas Divorce Attorney and set up an appointment for a free consultation. Reach us at (702) 474-0500.

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Impact of Separate Bank Accounts on Marital Property

Maintaining separate bank accounts has a complex impact on marital property, intersecting with the broader discussion of marriage and finances. Many consider separate accounts as a way to protect individual assets, affecting how marital property is defined and influencing the financial dynamics of a marriage.

1. Preservation of Individual Ownership

Maintaining separate bank accounts is a practical way to protect individual ownership within marriage and finances. By having distinct accounts, it is implicitly understood that the funds within each account belong exclusively to the account holder. This is particularly crucial for those entering marriage with existing assets, establishing a clear distinction between shared marital finances and personal holdings. Additionally, individuals seeking financial autonomy within their marriage find that separate bank accounts are a strategic tool, offering protection and delineation of individual ownership.

Preserving individual ownership through separate bank accounts accommodates diverse financial preferences and objectives. Beyond protecting pre-existing assets, this financial arrangement fosters independence and control over one’s financial resources within the broader framework of the marital partnership.

2. Legal Recognition and Jurisdictional Variances

The impact of separate bank accounts on marital property is closely linked to legal frameworks, which vary significantly across jurisdictions. The effectiveness of using separate accounts to protect assets from divorce, so it won’t be considered marital property which can differ from one region to another. In some areas, maintaining separate accounts may not guarantee absolute protection against categorizing assets as marital property. Therefore, understanding the laws governing marital property in a given jurisdiction is essential to accurately assess the legal implications of keeping separate accounts.

3. Intent and Documentation as Key Factors

The impact of maintaining separate accounts within a marriage is closely tied to the intentions of the spouses and the documentation that substantiates those intentions. When spouses expressly communicate and, ideally, document their agreement to keep specific assets separate, it significantly strengthens the case for treating these assets as individual or separate property. The clarity of intent, especially when supported by communication or written agreements, plays a crucial role in legal determinations.

Establishing a clear understanding through communication and documentation that certain assets are intended to remain separate lays the groundwork for legal arguments in favor of individual ownership. Documenting this agreement adds formality and evidentiary support, potentially enhancing the viability of maintaining the separation of assets in the eyes of the law. This emphasis on intent and documentation highlights the importance of proactive communication and formal agreements in navigating the complexities of marital finances and property rights.

4. Commingle Risks and Mitigation

The importance of keeping separate bank accounts can be compromised when funds are mingled. Communal funds become intertwined as individual financial resources mix with those considered marital assets. This blending makes it challenging to trace the origin of specific funds, posing a risk to the clear distinction between assets designated as separate and those categorized as marital property. This blending creates a situation where legal disputes may arise, adding complexity to characterizing these assets in divorce proceedings or other legal matters.

The challenges stemming from mingling highlight the need to maintain the integrity of separate accounts to ensure clarity about financial ownership. By doing so, the likelihood of contentious legal battles over the proper classification of assets is minimized. Therefore, preserving the separation of funds within individual accounts is a proactive measure to guard against complications that may arise from interweaving separate and marital financial resources.

5. Contributions and Transmutations

Separate accounts exert influence on contributions within a marriage. Besides financial input, diverse forms of support from each spouse factor into the overall asset division. This comprehensive evaluation considers not only monetary contributions but also the broader support dynamics within the marital relationship. Additionally, transmutation introduces complexity, wherein separate property may transform into marital property. This intricacy highlights the necessity of navigating the nuances of individual and joint financial contributions within the marital context.

6. Dynamic Nature and Periodic Review

The impact of separate bank accounts on marital property is a dynamic element, changing as a marriage evolves. Unlike a static feature, the influence of maintaining separate bank accounts fluctuates with the progressing relationship between spouses. Marital dynamics are fluid, meaning a financial arrangement that was suitable at one point may not align with the changing needs and circumstances of the spouses in the future. Recognizing this dynamism is crucial, urging couples to review their financial agreements regularly, especially those related to separate accounts. These periodic assessments proactively measure whether the existing financial plan remains in harmony with the current state of the marriage. When necessary, adjustments to these agreements can be made to ensure the financial framework adequately addresses the spouses’ evolving financial goals, responsibilities, and mutual expectations. In essence, this approach signifies a commitment to adaptability, acknowledging that a well-crafted financial plan evolves harmoniously with the ever-changing nature of married life.

In conclusion, the impact of separate bank accounts on marital property is contingent on a combination of legal considerations, communication, intent, and the practical management of finances within a marriage. While separate accounts can serve as a means of maintaining financial independence, understanding the broader implications and staying attuned to the legal and relational nuances is essential for a comprehensive approach to managing marital property.

Consult with A Professional Divorce Attorney

For individuals navigating the complexities of marital property and the impact of separate bank accounts, seeking advice from a professional divorce attorney is paramount. At Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd. Lawyers, we understand the nuances of family law, and our team of experienced divorce lawyers in Las Vegas is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance tailored to your specific situation. We recognize the significance of protecting your rights, assets, and everything you’ve built throughout your marriage. Our attorneys can shed light on the intricacies of property division, exceptions, and options available, ensuring you make informed decisions aligned with your interests.

Our law firm takes pride in being recognized as the best family lawyer in Las VegasNevada, emphasizing a client-centric approach and a commitment to excellence. Whether you are contemplating separation, facing divorce proceedings, or dealing with issues such as alimony, child support, and property division, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to offer sound advice and strategic counsel. We understand the importance of controlling costs while safeguarding your rights, and we’re dedicated to guiding you through the legal process with clarity and expertise. Don’t navigate the complexities of family law alone – consult with Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd. Lawyers, and empower yourself with the knowledge and support needed during challenging times.

For more information on how can help you with Marital Property, please contact us at  (702) 474-0500, or visit us here:

Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd.

6655 West Sahara avenue
Suite D220 (Building D)
Las Vegas, NV 89146

(702) 474-0500

Las Vegas Divorce Attorney