If you live in California or a handful of other states, you may believe that having separate bank accounts when you are married is a way to protect yourself during a divorce. This is not always the case and believing so could set you up to lose a lot of money during your divorce.
According to some divorce attorneys, separate accounts that contain money acquired after you and your soon-to-be ex were married will be considered marital or community property.
One way to protect yourself financially in a divorce is to sign a prenuptial agreement before you get married. This legal document can stipulate who gets what in a divorce and as long as it is drawn up correctly, it will be valid in divorce court. Another benefit of having a prenup is that it forces you and your partner to talk about financial matters before you say, "I do."
Another way that you might be able to keep some of the money you had before you married is to print off a copy of your accounts the day before the wedding and keep it in a safe place. This can be used to show the court the money you had before you married. If you receive an inheritance during your marriage, you should keep this money completely separate from any marital assets. This includes not spending it on things that you and your spouse needed or wanted during your marriage.
Because the division of assets can be so complex during a divorce, it's best to have legal guidance. An attorney can advise you on what will be considered community property and what will be separate property.