While many relationship experts say that couples should combine finances, not all relationship experts agree. And there are some situations where you shouldn’t combine your finances.
Will Separate Finances Protect Me?
A lot of people are under the belief that having separate finances will protect them from their spouse’s financial decisions in the event of divorce—but this isn’t necessarily true. Of course, the laws vary from state to state, however, simply maintaining separate bank accounts will not necessarily protect you from your spouse’s financial decisions. For example, if your spouse purchases a car during the marriage, you could become responsible for that car payment in the event of a divorce. The likelihood that the aforementioned would occur, will depend on your circumstance and where you’re located. The point is that when you’re married, simply keeping your finances separate doesn’t necessarily shield you from the consequences of your spouse’s financial decisions. If you have concerns about protecting yourself from your spouse’s financial decisions, you need get advice from a licensed attorney in your state on how you can best protect yourself.
Anytime there’s abuse in a relationship, combining finances is always a bad idea. There are different types of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. No matter which types of abuse are present in your marriage, combining finances when you’re in an abusive relationship may not be the best idea, even if you don’t feel like your spouse is financially abusive. If you’re in an abusive relationship, and you’re not married yet, combining finances can still be dangerous. Getting out of an abusive relationship be more difficult if you’ve already combined your finances. Many abusers like to exert control over their significant others by using finances. If you feel like your spouse wants to combine finances as a way to control you, that may be a sign that the relationship should not progress to a marriage.
Out of Control Spending
If your spouse has out of control spending, you may need to separate your finances to keep the family afloat. Addictions related to substance abuse, shopping, or gambling can cause financial strain on a family. If your spouse isn’t able to refrain from spending excessively, you may need to separate your finances in order to ensure that you can pay for necessities such as utilities and shelter. This is especially important if you have children. Though combining your finances is nice, it’s more important that your children have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. If your spouse’s spending is getting in the way of that, you may need to separate your finances. If you’re not married, but you and your significant other have different spending styles, you need to get on the same page about that before you get married.
You Don’t Trust Your Spouse
If you can’t trust them enough to combine your finances, that’s a pretty clear indication that you shouldn’t marry them. But what if you’re already married? If you’re already married, but you don’t trust your spouse enough to combine your finances, then it’s important to follow your gut on this one. However, the lack of trust may be an indication that there are issues that need to be resolved. For example, if you don’t trust your spouse because of an affair that happened a while ago, it may be worth it to go to counselling to see if that trust can be repaired. Trust is an essential part of a healthy marriage, and if you don’t trust your spouse, it may be time to consider counselling. If there’s no way that trust can ever be restored, it may be time to consider ending the marriage, assuming if you’ve already tried everything to restore trust.
You’re Not Married
A lot of unmarried couples share finances to some extent, especially if they live together. Usually, this is done to help ensure that all bills are paid on time. However, completely combining your finances while unmarried can be a recipe for disaster. Depending on what types of accounts you share, you may be exposing yourself to a lot of financial liability with limited recourse in the event that something goes wrong. For example, if your significant other is on your savings account, they may be able to legally take all your money, even if they never put a cent of their own money into your savings account. If you’re unmarried and you want to combine your finances, you need to understand exactly what rights your significant other will have to your finances. If you are unsure of what rights your significant other has to your finances, you need to ask the bank. If you want to buy a house together, but you’re not married, you should either wait until your married, or have a contract in place so that you’re protected in the event that the relationship ends.