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In divorce, nobody wants to give their ex anything. Though the idea of your ex walking away with everything and you walking away with nothing is highly unrealistic, you’ll still want to protect as many assets as you can while following the laws. In Utah, whether you keep your assets separate or not, if they were earned during the marriage they are going to be considered marital and therefore, put in the estate for equitable distribution.  However, it makes sense to want to specifically protect your separate assets (earned before the marriage, or protected by a prenup or postnup, personal injury award, inheritance, etc.). If you’re concerned about protecting your separate property in the case of divorce, it’s important to know that you do have options outside of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. One way to make sure your assets are protected is to avoid commingling them. 

What Is Commingling

Simply put, commingling assets in a marriage is when both spouses mix their assets together. Though keeping your separate assets separate sounds simple, once you’re married, maintaining completely separate assets is difficult. In Utah, remember any money earned during the marriage is considered to be a marital asset. So, even if you have completely separate accounts, you may still have to give your spouse some of that money during a divorce. However, there are certain assets that you may be able to keep separate during the marriage.

When Do Assets Become Commingled?

When you have a savings account before the marriage, it’s considered to be a separate asset. However, if you put your spouse’s name on the account, or you deposit money that has been earned during the marriage into the account, the asset becomes commingled and your spouse will have rights to it. This is true even if your spouse had no income of their own. Separate assets typically become commingled when marital assets are mixed in with them, or when they’re used to contribute to the marriage. So if you use your inheritance to purchase a home, and you put your spouse’s name on the house too, the inheritance becomes marital property.

How Can You Avoid Commingling?

If you have any assets before the marriage, you can avoid commingling them by keeping them in a separate account during the marriage. Do not put your spouse’s name on the account or the asset. Furthermore, do not spend the money on any asset that your spouse’s name is on. For example, if you pay off your marital home with a premarital asset, that premarital asset becomes commingled and your spouse could be entitled to some of it in a divorce. It would be pretty unusual for a person to walk away from their spouse without having to compromise at all. Since you’re married, some of your assets will inevitably be combined with your spouse’s assets. However, if you’re concerned about protecting your assets in a divorce, you should keep the assets separate.

How You Can Add Additional Protection

Signing a prenuptial agreement, or a postnuptial agreement, can help add additional protection to the assets you had before the marriage. However, contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is not a magic wand. It cannot ensure that your spouse gets nothing and you get everything. Instead, these types of agreements are designed to protect both parties in cases of divorce. And, if during a divorce, a judge decides that a prenup or postnup is too one sided, it may be thrown out.

Protect Yourself Today

If you need help protecting your premarital assets, CoilLaw is here for you. Our attorneys can help advise you on how to keep your assets separate and how to protect them in the event of divorce. If you need help getting a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


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