Millennials are more likely to keep their finances separate and to have prenuptial agreements than previous generations, but experts say the latter is more likely than the former to protect their property in a divorce. In an equitable distribution state like Florida, what people have earned separately may still be considered their own property. However, a court still has some discretion in what it determines is shared property and how that property will be divided. There are advantages in a divorce to having individual accounts. It can allow each person to have ready access to money for use during the process.
A prenup can be a positive tool not just for the financial protection it offers but because it forces couples to talk about their finances and their attitudes about money. Couples may also modify their prenup later. However, a couple who does not want a prenuptial agreement might want to print out their account statements prior to the marriage to show what they are bringing into it.
Inheritances are generally considered individual property, but after 10 or 20 years, it can be difficult to identify where the money came from. To keep inheritances separate instead of shared property, people should not use them for shared expenses, such as home renovations.
Not all divorce cases end up in litigation. It is possible to make a decision about property division through negotiation. However, if a couple does have to go to court, a judge may use several criteria to determine what counts as shared property. This could include the income of each person. In some cases, a higher-earning spouse might be required to pay support to a lower-earning spouse. Attorneys may be able to assist in negotiations or in litigation, and they may help people protect their financial interests in these processes.