When you divorce in Utah, you have to extricate your entire lives. This means you have to split everything you have in some form or fashion: kids, money, cars, toys, homes, etc., etc., etc.
One of the most common things divorcing couples have to split is bank accounts. And splitting bank accounts is tricky because it happens at the very beginning of the divorce process. In fact, it almost always happens long before people file for divorce in Utah.
The reason for this is people usually split the account when they separate. They don’t wait to finalize their divorce to take money out of the accounts.
So, this leads us to the question: how do we split up the money in our bank accounts?
The answer is pretty straightforward: you divide it equally.
I have never had a judge get mad at my client for taking 50% of the money in a bank account when they separated from their spouse. Now, I have had a judge very upset when the other side took 95% of the bank account. That sort of behavior will get you judge-slapped (as it were) every time.
So, if you’re going to leave your spouse, take 50% of the joint accounts and put them in a separate account. Separate as in your spouse’s name is not on the account and he or she cannot access it. And don’t feel bad about doing this; it has to happen at some point anyway.
But what if my spouse and I kept separate accounts in our marriage?
Sometimes people are married but have their own accounts and do not mix monies. I personally think this is really unhealthy behavior for married people to engage in, but whatever works.
In situations like this, the money will still — almost certainly — be considered marital funds subject to 50/50 division. Just because marital money is in separate accounts does not mean it isn’t marital money.