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Married couple finances: to combine or not to combine

When a couple is about to get married, there are many things they generally need to decide regarding their finances. One is whether they will completely combine their finances.

Here in America, combining finances is generally viewed as the norm for married couples. Around two-thirds of the respondents to a recent survey on couple finances said that sharing financial accounts is something that it is moderately or very important for a couple to do. However, fully combining finances is not the only option a married couple has. They also could choose to keep some or all of their finances separate.

Fully combining finances does have certain aspects that may be attractive to couples. Combining finances has the potential to help promote financial openness and sharing among a couple, which can be important things. Also, some view having combined finances as better reflecting one of the big things marriage is about: sharing a life together. 

However, fully combining finances right after getting married can also have some potential downsides for a couple. For one, if the two spouses are coming into the marriage from two very different places financially, immediately combining finances could be creating fertile grounds for financial conflicts, which can be hard on a marriage.

Also, having fully combined finances can pose some challenges if a couple decides to divorce. For one, it can make it more difficult and time-consuming for a divorcing couple to separate from each other financially. Also, it could potentially make the issue of what is marital property and what is non-marital property a little more hazy.

Thus, there are many different factors a couple that is getting married may want to think about when deciding whether to completely combine their finances or maintain some separate finances.

It is important for New York couples to know that the financial decisions they make as they enter into a marriage, such as whether to commingle finances and whether to have a prenuptial agreement, can have significant impacts in the future and to give such decisions the careful thought they deserve.  

Source: azcentral, "Couples like mixing finances but experts advise caution," Russ Wiles, Feb. 17, 2015

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