In California, millennials may handle finances differently once they get married. In the past, married couples started a joint bank account when they married. Now, many people are keeping their accounts and finances separate. However, those who are counting on that protecting their own account in the event of a divorce will be disappointed.
Even if a bank account is in the name of one spouse, it is considered part of the marital estate as long as money moved in and out of the account while the couple was married. This holds true for any asset that mixes with money during the course of the marriage. In other words, the effect of separate finances during the marriage is purely psychological and does nothing to alter the traditional legal view that any asset acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses and is subject to division in the event of a divorce.
This not to say that there are no benefits to keeping separate bank accounts. This could be helpful if the divorce is difficult as a separate bank account would give a spouse ready access to their own funds to maintain their lifestyle and hire an attorney if necessary. Plus, separate accounts may also reduce financial tensions between the couple that could heighten the risk of a divorce. However, it is not absolute legal protection.
Those going through a divorce who want to know how it will impact their finances and assets may seek the advice of a family law attorney. The attorney may be able to help their client obtain the best possible settlement agreement. Every divorce is unique, and an attorney might use particular facts to advocate for certain assets being distributed to their client during the property division process.