When couples in Missouri get married, they might want to protect their property in case the marriage ends in divorce. A strategy some will implement to achieve this is to have separate property in their own names. Bank accounts, automobiles and homes are examples. For those who are under the impression that this is a failsafe method of keeping items out of the divorce and shielding them from property division, this can be a mistake. There is always nuance in a divorce and the law will frequently categorize these issues differently than people think. When getting a divorce or simply considering one, it is important to understand how property will be divided regardless of whose name is attached to it.
According to a survey from Bank of America, it is increasingly common for younger couples to ignore the longtime practice of couples having joint bank accounts. 28% of millennials were found to have taken this step by maintaining separate financial profiles. This is around twice the number of baby boomers and Generation X people who have done the same. A reason for this is believed to be the ease with which money can be transferred with various apps. Another consideration is how complicated property division can be if there is a divorce and this is a way to avoid that.
However, those who are experienced in divorce cases say that separate accounts or names on the property does not necessarily mean the person whose name is on it gets it if the couple parts ways. It is risky, as the laws could say something vastly different. Having separate accounts can be a mental benefit more than a legal benefit. Missouri is a state that uses “equitable distribution.” Property division will be split based on what is deemed fair. Oftentimes, the concept of “fairness” differs from what the spouses believe and what the court believes. Property that was accrued during the marriage – regardless of whose name it is in – can be deemed marital property and subject to property division.
Short of having a prenuptial agreement, there is little that a person can do when property is divided in a divorce, even if it is in his or her own name. This is just one concern that can cause financial challenges. There are many others.