Nobody can see what comes next. If you know you want to stay with your spouse through thick and thin, you might want to understand how marital property works.
Organized finances have many benefits. Not the least of these is that certain types of legal protections exist for married couples who choose not to share certain resources — at least not until they absolutely have to.
Marital property overview
There is a complex set of rules regarding what you should and should not do when managing marital property — the truth is that it depends on your unique situation. Shared resources tend to be assets you:
- Earn during marriage
- Intermingle with shared resources
- Grow due to your actions
- Use to manage marital property
Therefore, you can reduce most of the rules to a relatively simple principle. Anything that is separate should remain completely separate — as in having no active relationship to you or the marriage — if you want it to stay that way.
Risks of sharing
Most people think of marriage as sharing everything. Unfortunately, that often means that you share every risk with your spouse just as you do every reward.
This might not be desirable in some cases. For example, what if your spouse became the target of a personal injury or criminal case? If all of your assets were marital property, they could all be subject to collection or other action.
Strategy for separate property
Establishing or preserving separate property could protect certain types of assets from collections against your spouse. Of course, you would want to be very careful about how you approach the management, ownership and maintenance of any property with this strategy. Even if you two sign terms about who owns which assets, your spouse’s creditors might not be so accepting of your agreement.
Marriages are about partnership and sharing. However, they are also often about supporting your spouse if they are ever up against something beyond your shared resources.