I didn’t change my paycheck direct deposit when I got married. The money still went into my checking account in my name. I transferred funds into the joint account each month to cover my share of the mortgage etc. I figured that the money in my checking account was mine and the money in the joint account was ours. Boy was I wrong.
New York State defines marriage as an economic partnership. This means that everything either spouse earns during the marriage is marital, no matter whose name is on the title of the account. So I wasn’t protecting my earnings by putting them into an account in my name. (This is one of those situations where the law and human logic seem to be at odds…)
Even in our very capitalist system, the general idea for married people is “from each, according to [his] ability, to each, according to [his] need.” (Not to get into a discussion about Marxism here…). This economic system makes sense when one spouse is the breadwinner and the other is home with the kids. It also makes sense when both spouses are working and contributing but have very different earning potential. But partnerships and expectations change over time, and when people are getting divorced, sorting out what is who gets what (I call it Yours, Mine, and Ours) can be very challenging.
So why not skip the whole thing and separate love and money? The Washington Post ran an article this week (picked up by Apple News) called “For older women with money, it’s yes to love but ‘I don’t’ to marriage” by Roxanne Roberts. They were exploring the idea that many women are in long-term, committed, loving relationships who said, “Can we not put a ring on it?” Some of the women they interviewed were widowed and wanted to make sure they left their assets to their adult children. Some had been flattened out by divorce, started over, and wanted to protect themselves in case they got divorced again. Some had worked their whole lives, building up retirement assets that they intended to use – for themselves.
So why get married at all? Do you need the ring to prove that you love each other? Perhaps Beyoncé was wrong after all?