Bank accounts, similar to any other property, is subject to division during a divorce proceeding. For most divorcing couples, separating bank accounts can be even harder and a bigger source of animosity than dividing the family home. Getting legal help from an experienced Central Valley divorce lawyer is key in protecting your interests and making sure the divorce process runs smoothly and fairly.
Dividing Bank Accounts
During a divorce proceeding, bank accounts are categorized as either community property or separate property. If your attorney determines your bank account is community property, it will be split equally in your divorce. On the other hand, if it is labeled as separate property, the bank account may stay with either you or your spouse depending on who is deemed the sole owner.
Despite what most think, just because you have a separate account while married, it does not mean that it would fall under the category of separate property. Bank accounts are categorized as either community property or separate property depending on various factors.
When Bank Accounts Are Divided Equally
Any asset that is typically acquired during a marriage is labeled as community property. Bank accounts are no exception. When a married couple opens a bank account after marriage, whether joint or separate, it belongs to both spouses. Upon divorce, the account belongs to both spouses and will be divided equally.
If one spouse enters a marriage with a bank account he or she opened prior to getting married, the account may still be considered community property at divorce if the account was used after marriage. This happens when nearly all funds, such as regular paychecks, are placed into the separate bank account after marriage. This is generally referred to as comingling funds – or when assets are combined for common use during a marriage.
When Bank Accounts Are Kept Separate
Keeping separate bank accounts during a marriage does not guarantee funds will remain separate in a divorce. However, it is possible to protect a separate bank account from being divided equally in the event of a divorce proceeding.
Some ways to keep a bank account separate in a divorce include:
- Not depositing any community property funds – such as money earned during the marriage
- Not adding your spouse’s name to the separate bank account
- Only depositing inheritance or gifts that are in your name only – if your spouse’s name is included in the inheritance or gift, then the funds would be considered commingled and be equally divided at divorce
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or planning to file for divorce, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.