You own your own assets before marriage. So does your future spouse. It does not matter how long you’ve been together. Those are your separate assets.
If you get married and you mix those assets together, this is known as commingling them. Doing so may mean that your spouse can claim a share of the assets — if you get divorced — that you owned before you even tied the knot.
Mixing bank accounts
Perhaps the most common example of this is with bank accounts. For instance, say you have $40,000 in your account. Your future spouse has just $10,000. You get married and put all of your money — now $50,000 — into a joint bank account. This is a very common practice with married couples.
If you get divorced later, you likely cannot claim that $40,000 was yours and then take it out for yourself. Instead, the court may order you to take $25,000 and your spouse to take the other $25,000. You feel like you lost $15,000 in the divorce.
Why is this done? By mixing the assets, you gave your ex access to that money. They can claim ownership as a result. Additionally, if you paid mutual bills out of that account, there is no way to decide whose money you used, so the entire account has to be shared.
Complex property division
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with complex property division issues, you could have quite a lot of money on the line. It is critical for you to understand exactly where you stand, legally speaking, and what steps to take.