Burning legal question: Is it a red flag when your spouse forces you to pool all earnings into one shared account?

Burning legal question: Is it a red flag when your spouse forces you to pool all earnings into one shared account?

There are several questions and discussions engaged couples typically have before marrying, including matters concerning children, pets, religion, and money. Given that, besides infidelity, financial issues rank high among the leading causes of divorce, soon-to-be-married couples must address finances head-on. Your future married self will thank you for sidestepping potential pitfalls, much like the protagonist in one Am I the A**hole (AITA) saga posted on Reddit.

In this intriguing thread, the AITA original poster (OP) grapples with a dilemma that prompts the age-old question, "Am I the a-hole?" The source of her uncertainty lies in her fiancé's insistence on pooling all their earnings into a single joint account. What's more, he's gone so far as to delay their impending nuptials until she agrees to his financial terms. Seeking solace and advice, she turns to the virtual confessional of Reddit, laying bare her predicament and inviting the judgment of the online masses.

Thus, we unwittingly tumble down the rabbit hole of discussions surrounding financial bullying, marital assets, joint bank accounts, and the ominous presence of red flags.

Financial bullying 101: Sneaky tactics of financial bullies and red flag alerts

Financial bullying is like the lesser-known sibling in the family of toxic behaviors. This type of bullying can manifest in various ways, from controlling the purse strings to outright manipulation. It's the art of using money to wield power and control in a relationship. In the Reddit poster's case, her fiancé is demanding a financial merger as a prerequisite to marriage. Is this a case of harmless and practical financial planning or a major red flag?

While every relationship is unique, there are common signs that indicate whether your partner's financial moves should cause alarm. If your fiancé or spouse is insisting on combining all your finances without considering your feelings or concerns, it's time to pause and evaluate. In OP’s case, her partner is delaying marriage, accusing her of being uncompromising. Without getting any deeper into the legalities of that, we say: red flag alert!

Joint accounts in a marriage: The good, the bad, and the pineapple on pizzas metaphor

Some couples may view a joint bank account as the ultimate symbol of matrimonial unity, while others see it as a potential minefield. The question of whether to merge finances in a marriage is about as divisive a topic as pineapple on pizza — it largely depends on individual taste.

For many couples, a joint bank account is a practical and efficient way to manage household finances. It streamlines bill payments and fosters a sense of shared responsibility. It can be the cornerstone of a financial partnership where decisions are made jointly, and both parties have equal access to funds.

However, not all couples share this perspective. The situation of our Reddit poster serves as a good example. With significantly disparate income levels and distinct family backgrounds, their individual net worth stands far from equal ground. This is where their financial standings clash:

  • She earns over five times what her fiancé does. While love knows no monetary bounds, financial imbalances can strain even the strongest relationships.
  • OP has a child from a previous relationship, while her fiancé has two children from his past. The financial responsibilities extend beyond the couple to their extended families, adding layers of complexity.
  • OP’s sick mother could further complicate their future finances as a married couple. Balancing medical expenses, child support, and personal obligations can make the idea of merging finances seem less like a harmonious union and more like a high-stakes juggling act for her.

You be the judge of your future spouse’s character

Determining whether you're marrying a prince or a frog seems straightforward after spending a considerable amount of time with your future spouse. Unfortunately, it's not always that clear-cut. Thankfully, the Reddit poster managed to uncover the layers of her potentially gold-digging partner before she agreed to say "I do." Even if she had considered marrying him despite his dubious intentions, a prenuptial agreement could have offered some protection.

The last update on her thread reveals a wise decision: they've paused on the wedding plans and are exploring alternatives, such as seeking the guidance of a financial counselor.

Ultimately, the decision to marry is deeply personal, and you hold the gavel. Take the time to understand your partner's character, values, and attitudes toward finances. Seek professional guidance if needed, as our Reddit poster has wisely done.

If we were responding to the AITA thread/forum, we'd undoubtedly assert that she is not the a-hole. Additionally, we might advise her to refrain from marrying any potential a-holes in immediate sight.

Read more burning legal questions: Burning legal question: Can glitter bombing someone land me in legal trouble?

Read more burning legal questions: Burning legal question: Can glitter bombing someone land me in legal trouble?

For burning legal questions, ignite a conversation with lawyers
Should you welcome a cat or a hamster into your home? How about the decision to have children, and if so, how many? Are you being overly cautious about finances before agreeing to get married, and does that make you an a-hole? As family law attorneys here in the Evergreen State, we acknowledge that these questions involve deeply personal choices that we can't make for our clients.

If you're facing more pressing questions than deciding on fur babies, feel free to reach out to us for guidance. Call our Renton law offices or leave us a message.