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What are commingled assets?

Commingled assets are assets that you and your spouse likely have to split up when you get divorced. They're no longer owned by just one of you, but by both, and therefore have to be divided accordingly.

For instance, after your wedding, you close your bank account and have your name put on your spouse's account. You reroute your direct deposit payments from work so that they land in that account, as do your spouse's payments.

It no longer matters if the payments were made to you or your spouse. Both of your names are on the account, and all of the money is lumped together. When you pull money out to pay the mortgage or buy groceries, you don't differentiate between your money and your spouse's, and the divorce court isn't going to, either.

It's perhaps most important to think about commingling when you have assets prior to the wedding day. Perhaps you worked for five years before the marriage, and you already had $50,000 when the two of you got married. As divorce looms, you definitely remember that you made that $50,000 while you were single and that you earned it alone.

Your best chance to retain all of it is to keep it separate. If you drop it into that joint account and your new spouse adds his or her $10,000, you may have to split that $60,000 in half. You'd essentially lose $20,000 in the process. Now, you may be able to argue otherwise in court, but keeping the commingling from happening -- so the money isn't used for joint expenses -- makes doing so easier.

Many couples struggle with the asset division process when they feel it's not fair or just. Make sure you know your legal options.

Source: Live About, "Divorce and Commingled Funds," Cathy Meyer, accessed Sep. 20, 2017

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