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What Will Happen to My Bank Accounts in My Divorce?

by | Feb 11, 2020 | marital property, News and Events

In the event of a divorce on Long Island, all of a couple’s assets, property, and debts are divided between them in a process known as Equitable Distribution. Under New York law, this is done equitably, meaning fair but not necessarily equal. Here’s what you need to know about what may happen to your bank accounts after your divorce and how to get legal help to protect your financial assets as you dissolve your marriage.

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Marital Property vs. Separate Property

Liquid assets in bank accounts are treated like all other property in the marriage under equitable distribution laws. However, only marital property can be distributed in this manner; separate property remains with the individual to whom it belongs.

Marital Property

Marital property is property that the couple acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name the assets are in. If the spouse that manages the money opens a savings account in their name and begins to add to it with earnings from either spouse during the marriage, those funds then become marital property.

In some cases, if the money was strictly gifted to the spouse who opened the account and no evidence of comingling exists, a judge may decide to treat the account like separate property. However, there’s a chance that if marital funds (including money earned only by the account owner) were deposited into the account or money in the account was used to purchase marital property, a judge will consider the account marital property.

Separate Property

Separate property is any property that one spouse owned prior to the union, or property they brought into the marriage. For example, if one spouse came into the marriage with a certificate of deposit worth $500,000 gifted from their parents, it would be awarded only to that spouse upon the divorce instead of distributed equitably between the two spouses. Funds in an account intended specifically for one spouse, such as money from an inheritance or personal injury settlement, are also typically treated as separate property.

What Is Comingling?

Unfortunately, not all assets are clearly identifiable as marital or separate property. This is called comingling, when separate and marital assets are blended together. For example, if one spouse brings an account worth $8,000 to the marriage and adds their spouse’s name to the account, and then both spouses use the account to make purchases and deposits, this would be considered “comingled.”

Originally separate property may be considered marital property if it has been sufficiently comingled. Or, if the account currently stands at $10,000, a judge may award $8,000 to the spouse who brought the account into the marriage and the remaining $2,000 may be split between the two spouses.

How to Keep Your Bank Accounts Separate

Whether you’re entering into a marriage, gearing up for a divorce, or simply want to protect yourself financially as much as possible, it’s important to take steps to keep your bank accounts separate from the accounts of your spouse.

Make sure your account:

  • Is in your name only
  • Is not used to fund marital purchases
  • Does not receive deposits from marital funds, including wages earned only by the account owner (wages earned during the marriage by either spouse are considered marital property)
  • A gift in the name of both spouses cannot be deposited into the separate account

Keep detailed financial records from bank accounts you had prior to your marriage, during, and after. Make sure they are current and stored in a safe place only you can access.

Protect Your Assets with the Help of a Long Island Divorce Lawyer

If you’re involved in the process of getting a divorce, how a judge looks at your property can determine what you ultimately walk away with after the divorce has been finalized. An experienced divorce attorney can help you present a strong case for the awarding of separate property that rightfully belongs to you.

If you’re considering getting a divorce and want to know how to best position your assets prior to filing, your divorce lawyer can also help. Moving money around just before filing is tricky and often considered hiding assets, which isn’t allowed. Get the guidance of an experienced Long Island divorce attorney at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to ensure your assets are protected before, during, and after your divorce. Contact us today for a consultation at 631-923-1910.


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Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
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