On keeping separate (sometimes secret) savings during marriage

Jeff Landers is an author on divorce-related topics, who frequently delves into a subject that experienced divorced attorneys routinely deal with, namely, the central role that money often plays in divorce negotiations and proceedings.

It is a rarity for that to not be the case, given divorce considerations that can range broadly across property division, alimony, child support and other matters.

Landers has recently written about the need for women to feel a sense of security and both emotional and financial power when a divorce is a foregone conclusion, especially with a mate who can be controlling and even abusive.

He specifically throws out this question: Should a woman maintain a separate bank account to which her mate commands no access?

In his view, the answer is often “yes,” given especially that many women tell him following divorce that they wish they had educated themselves more on family finances during the marriage and exercised more active control over money they could call their own.

Landers notes that, these days, many women come into marriages with established careers, realized assets and strong earning prospects for the future. Many of them sacrifice those to become stay-at-home parents, thus losing a portion of their self-autonomy.

The issue of whether to keep a separate source of savings — for various costs and expenses, for future needs — secret is, says Landers, a unique consideration in every case. On the one hand, it could result in an undermining of trust at some point, if discovered. On the other hand, it could represent a logical form of insurance against a tyrannical mate who would think nothing of depleting all accounts and assets in a divorce proceeding.

And then there’s this: If a court later determines that such an account contains marital property, it will be divided by what state law provides for. In Georgia, that is an equitable property division scheme.

A proven family law firm with deep experience in divorce representation and asset-related matters can sagely counsel a client concerning proper planning with regard to separate property. A private financial reserve certainly doesn’t have to be secret. There are many legal instruments, such as prenuptial agreements and trusts, that can be executed to allow for personal security and financial freedom.

Source: Forbes, “Pros and cons of keeping a secret fund in case you divorce,” Jeff Landers, Feb. 14, 2013

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