You came to your marriage with a significant amount of money. You had been out of school and working for five years, while your spouse had still been attending school. You both understood how much money you had and that there was a big difference in wealth when you got married, but you didn’t think too much about it. 

Now you’re getting divorced, though. Do you get to keep the money that you earned prior to the marriage when you were still single? 

You may. It is a separate property that you own. In theory, you have financial records — liked dated bank statements — to show how much you had at the time of the wedding. Your spouse had nothing to do with your earning that money. 

However, if you commingled the money, you may have inadvertently turned it into a marital asset. Commingling is just the act of mixing funds together. For instance, maybe you and your spouse started a new bank account in both of your names and, once your spouse graduated and got a job, you both started sending your paychecks there. In addition, you took all of the money from before the marriage and mixed it into that account. 

By doing so, you gave your spouse access to the money, and you also made it unclear which money was being used for shared expenses. For instance, your spouse may claim you were using the previously-earned money to pay the mortgage, while you claim you were using the new money from the paychecks. How do you divide it up? By mixing the assets, your spouse may be able to claim a portion of all of your family money, including what you brought to the marriage. 

Divorce can get very complicated, financially speaking, and you must know what options you have.