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You may have already accepted the fact that your and your former spouse’s joint bank account will be up for New Jersey’s equitable distribution in your divorce proceedings. But you may be unsure about the fate of your separate bank account. Follow along to find out whether you can keep the assets held in your separate bank account in a divorce and how a proficient Bergen County equitable distribution attorney at McNerney & McAuliffe can work on your behalf to protect them.

What are considered to be commingled assets?

First of all, you must understand the concept of commingled assets. These are considered to be your assets that have been mixed with your former spouse’s assets for the duration of your marriage. In an instance such as this, the ownership of specific assets becomes a gray area; eventually, your separate assets may convert to marital assets. Ultimately, this may make them subject to equitable distribution.

To avoid commingled assets, it may be in your best interest to keep your separate bank account titled in your name alone. You should also avoid listing your spouse as an authorized user of your separate credit cards and bank accounts, as well. Instead, you and your spouse should establish a joint bank account to handle joint purchases.

Can I keep the assets held in my separate bank account in a divorce?

You may assume that your separate bank account holds separate assets, and therefore is not subject to equitable distribution. However, there are exceptions to this, and they are as follows:

  • The assets from this account were received from your and/or your former spouse’s salaries.
  • The assets from this account were used to pay for your and your former spouse’s joint household expenses (i.e., mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, insurance, etc).
  • The assets from this account were used to make purchases that benefited both you and your former spouse (i.e., buying real estate, buying vehicles, renovating property, booking family vacations, paying down debts, etc).

To fight back on this, you may make any of the following arguments to the New Jersey family court:

  • You may argue that you opened this account before marrying your former spouse.
  • You may argue that you did not contribute to this account throughout your marriage.
  • You may argue that you do not use the funds from this account to cover family expenses.
  • You may argue that your funds in this account are from an inheritance that is solely in your name.

A helpful tip is to look back at your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, if you have one, and refer to any clauses that cover how to handle separate bank accounts. In the end, you must schedule your initial consultation with a talented Bergen County family law attorney as soon as possible. Our team at McNerney & McAuliffe will be awaiting your phone call.

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