Seth Eric Springer, Esq.
Are Separate Bank Accounts Considered Marital Property?
Like some marriages, the phrase what's mine is yours seems to have an expiration date. Understandably, divorcing couples tend to protect themselves financially during this difficult period. Thus, in the event of owning separate bank accounts, the soon-to-be-ex spouses might want to know where they stand.
Are separate bank accounts considered marital property in Pennsylvania, and do they get divided as such? If not, how does the court split them in a divorce? Learn what counts as marital property below and which rules the PA court adheres to in divorce trials.
What Is Marital Property in Pennsylvania?
Understanding the difference between marital and non-marital property is crucial to divorcing couples. The reason is that the two types of assets do not get split the same way in a divorce. Thus, both partners need to classify their possessions, ascribing them to either of the two categories. As a result, they will know what kind of property distribution to expect during their divorce.
In PA, marital property is everything that either of the spouses has acquired during the couple's marriage. Anything earned or bought since their wedding day up to the date of their separation counts as marital assets. Among other things, marital property can include the following items acquired during the marriage:
● real estate
On the other hand, non-marital property refers to those assets that the couple does not own together. Thus, the divorcing couple's list of non-marital assets might include the following items:
● everything that either of the spouses acquired before marriage
● any possessions each of the spouses may have come by after the date of their
● any assets acquired as gifts or inheritance (excluding the presents that one spouse gave
to the other during marriage)
How Is Marital Property Divided in a Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Like community property states, PA distinguishes marital from non-marital assets during divorce trials. However, this state does not consider marital property as something that the divorcing couple has an equal right to. Because of that, PA does not distribute marital assets 50/50 — as community property states would.
Instead, this state follows the equitable distribution practice. In other words, the court can determine which partner gets which assets in a divorce. Usually, the judges take into consideration the following factors:
● what each of them did to acquire marital property
● their current income
● who gets custody of their children
● the length of their marriage
● their current health situation
● whether either of the spouses deliberately diminished the value of their marital property
● what each of them did to protect their assets
● if they have already divorced another partner
If you have other questions regarding this matter, such as if your wife can take your 401k in a divorce, reach out to us.
Do Separate Bank Accounts Count as Marital Property in PA?
In Pennsylvania, separate assets are usually not subject to division in a divorce. As it goes, this includes any non-marital property owned by either of the spouses. The only exception might be the separate assets whose property increases during the marriage.
As for separate bank accounts, their opening date becomes a crucial issue. If both spouses have opened their bank accounts during their marriage, they count as marital property. As a result, the judge can decide to divide this money equitably, as they would do with any other marital property assets. The bottom line is that it is irrelevant whose name the account bears as long as it was opened after the wedding.
But what happens if a spouse has owned their bank account since before marriage? In that case, this account counts as non-marital property in a divorce. Put differently, it should go to the spouse whose name it carries.
However, there is a gray area around splitting separate bank accounts between spouses. The reason is that their value usually increases over time. And as stated before, the difference in the value automatically becomes subject to equitable division.
In PA, the court has the final say when distributing property between a divorcing couple. Since this state applies the equitable distribution practice, it will try to split all marital property fairly.
When it comes to separate bank accounts, they can count as marital property on one condition. They have to be opened during the couple's marriage so that the judge can split them equitably. Otherwise, they will belong to the spouse whose name they bear. Even so, the increase in the value of such accounts will count as marital property in court.
If you desire to separate from your spouse while protecting your assets, you will be needing the best divorce lawyer in York. They can help address various concerns surrounding divorce, including how alimony is being calculated in PA.