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Must I split a private account in a divorce?

Divorce can bring up questions that you never thought to ask yourself while you were married. When it comes to equitable asset division, the rules for which assets may or may not be split during divorce proceedings can get a bit tricky, especially depending on the state where you are residing. Kentucky is an "equitable distribution" state, so the odds are already better for keeping more of what you believe is rightfully yours.

Let's take the example of money that one spouse has set aside out of his or her own income into a separate savings account while in the marriage. Originally, maybe this was to build up funds for a surprise big-ticket item gift for the other spouse, but once divorce proceedings begin, the ownership of that money comes into question. When the divorce is filed, that money, even though it was only ever accumulated from one spouse's income, may still be subject to some form of division, even if it is not half and half.

It is easy to see how this may seem unfair — after all, only one party contributed to this account's accumulation, why should the other party have any claim to it? While this may be true, the opposing side may just as easily claim that he or she was unaware of the account from the beginning, and it represents a pattern of deceitfulness and withholding. Ultimately, it is up to the courts to decide, although Kentucky courts are more willing to take the wishes of the divorcing spouse's into account because it is an equitable distribution state.

The exception to this is the source of the funds. If the money came from some source that is not considered marital property, like a birthday gift or an inheritance, then it is very possible that the other party will not get any of it.

Divorce and the likely conflicts over dividing assets can turn into a real quagmire if they are not handled appropriately. If you are divorcing, or foresee that a divorce may be on the horizon, the guidance of a qualified divorce attorney is an excellent way to ensure that you avoid as many unnecessary pitfalls of divorce as possible on the way to a fresh clean start.

Source: Zacks, "Can My Husband Get Money I Saved in the Bank Under My Name During Our Marriage?," accessed Oct. 11, 2016

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