Some relationships can last a lifetime, but others are not so lucky. While you might be in a happy marriage right now, you never know what can happen in the future. Divorce can come at the most unexpected moment, and you may end up in a tricky battle with your spouse, trying to divide all your assets fairly.
If you have significant personal assets that you don’t want your spouse to have access to in case of a divorce, you need to plan ahead to protect them. Once your separate property (the assets you own before marriage) becomes marital property (he assets you and your spouse shared during the marriage), you cannot change it back.
To prevent separate property from becoming marital property, here are a few things you can do:
- Don’t add your spouse’s name to the title or deed of the asset. It’s important to keep ownership of separate property in your name only. Assets such as a business, a car, or home should be under your name for it to be eligible as separate property at the time of divorce.
- Keep any income or value of your separate property out of a joint savings account. The second you mingle finances, it becomes marital property. If you receive an inheritance while married, you should keep it separate from your joint accounts. Or, if you sell off a prized collectible, you should add the money you receive from the sale to a different account.
- Keep good records of all your separate property. The best way to ensure your separate property remains separate is to provide proof. Maintaining all titles, deeds, and other documents that categorize ownership over your separate property will help you hold onto it during the divorce.
If you’ve been married for a while and you’re worried about your personal assets, you may want to review your property and make sure everything stays as separate as possible. If some of your assets have already mingled together with your spouse, you may want to consider a postnuptial agreement, which can help you and your spouse draw clear lines around certain assets.
The earlier you protect your separate property, the better off you might be during a divorce.