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A look at some ways to protect separate property with no prenup

Virginia residents who are looking to protect their separate assets in their marriage may be interested in some ways to accomplish this. Even without a written agreement, this separation may be achievable for the most part.

A prenuptial agreement is one important way for spouses to dictate what happens with their assets in case the couple divorces down the road. However, there are other important ways for a spouse to safeguard their property without a prenup. One of these is to avoid mixing the funds that they plan to keep separate with those of their spouse. When the couple commingles money that was earned prior to the marriage, those funds may be considered marital property. If kept apart, however, they will usually remain separate property.

Another important technique is for a person to keep their spouse's name off of the deed for their separate real estate property. If both names are on the deed for any reason, courts will usually consider this real estate to be marital property. Similarly, any money used to maintain that property should be a spouse's separate, not marital, funds. If marital assets are used to maintain or improve the real estate, the person's spouse could claim part ownership in a divorce.

Another important step to take when getting married is to get a snapshot of retirement accounts and business valuation at the time of the marriage. This can be done with an account statement for the retirement account and a business appraisal for the business. These will be evidence to keep an undivided portion of those assets from before the marriage. An attorney may be able to help a spouse in understanding these complex family law issues and represent that spouse throughout the divorce process.

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