Control of Money in a Marriage

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What are Some Guidelines Regarding the Control of Money in a Marriage?

State and federal laws place very little restrictions on how money is to be managed during marriage.  In other words, married couples are basically free to manage their money according to their own needs, as they see fit.  Very rarely will the law interfere with a couple’s use of their own money. 

For example, most state laws usually state that the couple has:

Basically, the law affects married couples’ finance management in only certain circumstances.  For example, some laws may affect a spouse’s ability to claim employment benefits on behalf of their spouse.  Other similar circumstances where the law may intervene include shared retirement plans and sharing of debt between the spouses. 

Does This Change With Divorce?

On the other hand, things begin to change drastically if the couple decides to file for divorce or legal separation.  At this point, the law steps in dramatically, often causing an upheaval in the couple’s financial situation.  Divorce begins the process of determining which property belongs solely to one spouse (separate property), and which belongs to both parties, to be split equally (communal or shared property).

Usually, income that is earned before or after marriage is considered separate property, and does not need to be split with the other party.  Income earned during marriage is usually considered shared property, and must be split equally with the other party.  These determinations can be very complex, especially if the couple has been married for a long time and accumulated a considerable amount of assets.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Advice on the Control of Money in a Marriage?

Managing money during marriage can sometimes be challenging.  You may wish to contact a lawyer if you have any legal issues regarding your finances, or if you simply need advice on money management.  Also, in the event of a legal dispute or conflict, you may wish to hire a lawyer who can represent you zealously in a court of law.

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Last Modified: 08-24-2012 04:06 PM PDT

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