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Guarding assets when you didn't sign a prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement helps to protect a spouse's personal assets if that spouse chooses to end his or her marriage. However, not all couples in Virginia are in favor of executing a prenuptial agreement. This post will discuss ways to protect personal property without a prenuptial agreement.

First of all, the spouse should keep his or her own funds and earnings separate from marital earnings. If the jointly owned funds are mixed with personal earnings, the personal earnings may become part of the marital property, which will be divided between the spouses during divorce.

Second, if the spouses owned a house or any real estate before the marriage, they should think carefully before adding the other spouse's name to the title deed of the property. That will imply that the other spouse was given half of that property as a gift by the other spouse, and it will also be divided during the divorce.

If the other spouse's money was used to maintain non-marital property, it becomes difficult for the court to determine which part of the property should be divided between the couple. To prevent confusion, the spouses should ensure that the non-marital property is maintained from the funds earned from pre-marital or inherited accounts.

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the spouses can protect their business by having that business valued right before or at the beginning of the marriage. Then, in the event of divorce, the other spouse will only be entitled to half the value that the business appreciated during the marriage.

If the spouse has a retirement account that was created before the marriage occurred, that spouse should retain a copy of the account statement on the date of the wedding. That will ensure that after the divorce, the spouse will be able to keep the funds that the person saved in that account before the wedding. Prenuptial agreements are the best way to ensure that assets are divided properly. However, if either spouse is against a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement, following those steps may make it easier to divide the assets after the divorce.

Source:, "How to protect your money if you don't have a prenup," Rebecca Zung, May 11, 2015

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