When someone realizes they need a divorce, they will usually turn to the people they know and trust. Family members and co-workers may find themselves trying to provide advice about a situation that they have never personally experienced.
There is one piece of divorce advice that people continue sharing even though it can potentially cause problems for someone getting divorced. People will often recommend that those contemplating divorce open a secret bank account or start making small cash withdrawals from a shared account so that they have money set aside for when they file.
This advice, while given with the right intention, could cause real issues later in the divorce.
A bank account in one spouse’s name is not their separate property
In theory, you can withdraw some money from a joint account and start a separate bank account without violating your spouse’s rights. However, you will need to disclose the existence of the account or the other resources that you hid when you file for divorce. You have an obligation to share that money or property with your spouse, even if it is income from your job.
Until you formally separate, your income and possessions are marital property that is subject to division under Massachusetts state statutes. If you do decide to start saving for your financial future before you file for divorce, it is crucial that you are honest about that when you provide paperwork to the courts and your ex about your property.
Knowing the rules that determine the outcome when dividing property in modern divorces will help you more than well-intentioned but inaccurate advice from your loved ones.