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Could a separate account help you during your marriage, divorce?

Once married, many women and men in Louisiana find themselves depending on one another. This dependence is emotional, physical and financial. In order to mitigate some of the stress associated with a divorce, some experts suggest keeping a secret fund that only you can access - not your spouse. This gives spouses a bit of an edge should divorce come, but it can also cause some issues during the property division process if it is approached incorrectly.

Many experts have seen women and men find themselves without an escape route once they are hit with a divorce. This often happens to individuals who decide to become stay-at-home parents or fully reliant on the income of their spouses. In order to protect themselves, reliant spouses should consider opening a bank account belonging to them and them alone. Funds can come from inheritances, part-time jobs, previous accounts from before the marriage and other sources. Some believe that this account should be secret, but it does not have to be.

While it can act as a defense to divorce, it can also provide a spouse with an outlet to maintain his or her individuality. Instead of consulting your spouse on every financial decision, use your account to purchase things that you want or to donate to causes you care about that your counterpart does not. If both spouses have separate accounts, both can behave in this manner.

But if only one spouse has one and the account is kept secret, it may result in accusations during the property division portion of the divorce. A surprise account may lead a divorcing spouse to believe that there are other hidden items - potentially valuable assets - lurking in the shadows. Hopefully, this is not the case because it is illegal. Should divorce occur, be sure to notify your spouse of the previously secret account despite the questions it may bring with it.

Source: Forbes, "Pros And Cons Of Keeping A Secret Fund In Case You Divorce," Jeff Landers, Feb. 14, 2013

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