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Example:

  • I have $100,000 in the bank.

  • I get married.

  • We start a joint account from scratch. All future salaries and bills from both of us come and go from here.

Is there any way to keep the $100,00 off limits in the case of a divorce, without a prenuptial?

Also, say I have $100,000 in a 401k and I get divorced when it is at $300,000 - is the spouse entitled to half of 300k, or 200k? Is there any way to make it the latter?

Any finance info pointing in the right direction is appreciated.

Thank you.

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Absent a pre-nup, it's a case of "lawyer vs lawyer," you can't count on protecting what you came into the marriage with. In theory, what you propose sounds fair, but the reality of divorce is that everything is fair game. much depends on each spouse's earnings and impact of child-raising. For example, a woman who gives up time in a career may go after more than half, as she may be X years behind in her career path due to the choices made to stay home with the kids. I think each divorce is unique, not cookie cutter.

  • does having something in writing stating the above, signed by both parties mean anything in the case of a divorce? – Greg McNulty May 3 '12 at 1:40
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    Something in writing legally executed prior to marriage is, defacto, a prenup. No? – JoeTaxpayer May 3 '12 at 1:53
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    I would suspect that a judge in a divorce proceedings has the power to set aside even an "iron-clad" pre-nuptial agreement, and may well do so when there are minor children whose support is an issue. Incidentally, do words such as "With all my goods I do thee endow" have any legal meaning? – Dilip Sarwate May 3 '12 at 2:21
  • Dilip - Agreed, and "no." I don't recall those words in my wedding vows, but legally, no more than "till death do us part." – JoeTaxpayer May 3 '12 at 3:44
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    @JoeTaxpayer The words I quoted are from the Solemnization of Matrimony section of the Book of Common Prayer that once was, and maybe still is, used in the Church of England. Might be used in the Episcopal Church in the US too. "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow". – Dilip Sarwate May 4 '12 at 1:15

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