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True or false: Keeping assets separate in marriage prevents property division

When two people marry, it is common for them to join their property and assets, just as they join their lives together.

Though this is common, it is also generally why dividing property is often so complex when couples file for divorce. However, many married couples nowadays are anticipating these troubles, even if divorce is not in their near future.

More young couples are keeping their money separate after marriage

According to CNBC, 28% of the millennial generation keeps their assets separate in their marriages. This rate alone is more than double the number of couples in previous generations who chose to keep their assets separate.

Why are they keeping assets separate? There are a few reasons, including:

  • Many of the couples report they are children of divorce, and witnessed the struggle of the property division process; and
  • Many people believe that if they keep assets separate, they will not have to endure the complex property division process.

However, that is not necessarily true.

This strategy will not always protect assets in the property division process

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, and the law establishes that all of the assets and property that a couple purchased or obtained during the marriage are assumed to be marital property. Therefore, the couple will have to divide almost all of their assets equitably upon divorce. This includes real estate properties, bank accounts and intangible assets.

So, the answer to the question this blog poses is usually false: keeping assets separate in marriage does not automatically help couples avoid challenges in property division. However, there are a few exceptions.

How can you protect your property?

Even though keeping assets separate does not automatically make them separate property, there are some measures you can take to protect your property in the event of a divorce:

  1. If you wish to keep property separate from your spouse’s, make sure you keep detailed records of precisely what is separate;
  2. Know what you came into the marriage with. Even if you keep assets separate, having a written record of the assets you owned before entering the marriage as well as the assets you kept separate during the marriage can help protect your property; and
  3. Speak with an experienced attorney to understand all of your potential options and strategies for preserving your assets.

Dividing property in a divorce is never easy. However, planning how to protect property long before a divorce is often the key to helping the process go smoothly.