Divorces come in all shapes and sizes. Some spouses are still talking to each other while others are at each others throats. In some marriage relationships one party made the money while the other party took care of the household and may have been the primary caretaker of the children. Still others find both spouses working with one being a spender and another person being a saver. The differences between marriage relationships are just as diverse as the divorces that arise out of those relationships.
Yet, even in divorce it is often important to be practical, realistic and optimistic.
For instance, in Rhode Island you need to understand that there are realistic standards that govern many divorce situations such as the division of assets. Though Rhode Island is an equitable division state (not to be confused with an "equal" division state), the law is fairly practical when it comes to many situations.
One such instance is when two people have separate bank accounts with their own separate funds in them. Then, those two people get married. Upon getting married, many spouses often put their monies into a joint account that has both of the parties' names on them. Those funds then become "marital funds" in the event of a divorce and they are divisible by the court in their entirety regardless of the length of the marriage, unless the judge does not find the division after a trial to be equitable.
For this example we will use funds in bank accounts. Bill has $23,000 in his own account. Tina has $5,000 in her own separate account as well. They get married. Bill puts Tina's name on his account. Tina moves her $5,000 into what is now their joint account and she closes her separate account. Unfortunately Bill and Tina may have jumped the gun and married too soon and they quickly find that they are incompatible and file for divorce within two (2) years.
Bill files for divorce. The law is practical and realistic when it comes to the bank account which has $38,000 at the time of the filing. It is in a joint account and therefore it is marital money to be divided between the parties.
The law in Rhode Island provides that when you enter into a joint account with someone, unless it can be shown that the name of one of the spouses was placed on the account purely as a matter of convenience that in fact, by having a joint account each person is gifting half of the money they contributed to the account to the other spouse. Thus, the entire account actually belongs to Bill AND it belongs to Tina.
In a divorce situation, if Bill and Tina are reasonable with one another and are still talking with one another then it would be an optimistic mindset and position to take that Bill should get back the $23,000 he had before this short marriage and Tina should get back her $5,000 and the parties should split the remainder equally.
However, if Bill and Tina are not getting along and either Tina or Bill intend to be vindictive that they are not bound by that optimistic perspective. Either one of them can endeavor to enforce the practical laws of Rhode Island and demand that the entire account of marital monies be divided equitably. Many times, equitably will turn out to be an equal division of monies absent some mitigating factor such as an infidelity that caused the breakdown of the marriage or dissipated the marital assets.
It is important, however, that even though it is good to be optimistic in a divorce situation, it is just as important to be realistic. If you have placed monies in a joint account, then you have created marital funds and you have no right or entitlement to get the monies you had before you married your spouse back. They are no longer premarital once they enter a joint account. Acceptance of the fact that this may be a realistic decision that a judge might easily come to because of Rhode Island's laws regarding divorce, marital assets and joint bank accounts will help you prepare for an outcome you may not be happy with but which you may have no choice about.
In your divorce, be practical and realize that laws govern what you have done with your assets, by getting married, and during your marriage. You need to be realistic and accept that laws will govern many situations in your divorce that you may not agree with and may be out of your control. No doubt if you were Bill and you expected to get your $23,000 back, you might be extremely unhappy if the judge were unconcerned about the short length of the marriage and simply applied the principle of a joint bank account to your case giving Tina half of everything in the account.
What may not seem fair to you in your divorce may be a situation that has often been spelled out by years of law not just regarding divorce but regarding banking or property law as well. The judge is bound by the law to be applied and unfortunately what may seem an unfair result to you or I in any particular divorce case often has a broader rule of law behind it that is being applied.
Marriage is an important decision as are what we do with our assets and debts during the marriage. It is a contract with repercussions that we often do not appreciate until we are in a divorce and it is too late. If you are contemplating marriage, it is not a bad thing to be aware of what may happen in the event of a divorce and how the law may treat what you do.
Be optimistic but practical and realistic! In the end, for all of us ignorance of the law is never an excuse... even in a divorce.