Joint finances for unmarried couples

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Unmarried Couples on Friday, December 27, 2013.

When Illinois couples divorce, the procedure for dividing assets can be fairly straightforward. They try to negotiate an agreement, and if they are unable to do so, the judge will order an equitable distribution of all assets acquired by either spouse. However, unmarried couples may wonder about how to separate their joint finances if the relationship ends.

In this scenario, one of the best ways for a person to avoid a problem is to take preventative measures. Some advisors recommend that, when spouses move in together, they have only one joint account for household expenses and keep all other funds separate. This is an important move, because any person named on a joint bank account has the ability to drain it completely, without regard for who initially made the deposits. Similarly, any time an unmarried couple purchases a big-ticket item such as a home or car, the partners may benefit from drafting a property agreement stating what happens to the asset if the couple later splits. They could also draft a contract regarding pets, similar to a child custody agreement.

With that said, some couples do not have the benefit of an existing agreement. In that case, it is recommended that the parties put their emotions aside if possible and attempt to divide the assets, looking at the separation as a business dissolution. That may include going through deposits and withdrawals to find out what each person is entitled to keep.

A local family law attorney may be able to help couples establish property prenuptial agreements in case they separate. the attorney may also be able to help modify the agreement to reflect a change in circumstances.

Source:, “Splitting Up Your Finances After You Split“, Nicholas Pell, December 18, 2013