Although married millennials may be more likely than their Gen X or baby boomer counterparts to keep finances separate, this might not be enough to provide financial protection in a divorce. While equitable property states like North Carolina usually require an equitable but not necessarily equal distribution of marital property, an attorney could argue that either spouse's earnings were also marital property.
Instead of relying on separate accounts to ensure financial security in case of divorce, financial professionals advise creating a prenuptial agreement. When couples create a prenup, they must be upfront about their finances. This could actually be a healthy conversation that leads to greater trust. However, a prenup is not right for all couples. If this is the case, there are other steps spouses can take to safeguard their finances.
For example, engaged partners may want to get printouts of their accounts so they have a record of what assets they are taking into the marriage. Usually, inheritances are considered separate property. If a spouse uses an inheritance for marital property, such as a renovation of the marital home, the inheritance might be considered shared property.
An attorney might be able to help prepare a client for how property may be divided in a divorce. For example, if one spouse is a stay-at-home spouse and the other earns a substantial income, spousal support could be ordered. However, such support is often temporary. In cases where both spouses are earning a roughly equal income and have their own retirement accounts, they might be more likely to keep their individual assets.