Avoiding money secrets. Despite the enthusiasm among personal finance advisers for such a system, marriage counselors often see separate funds as a harbinger of marital problems. "When people insist on keeping their own account, that speaks volumes about their feelings," says Jack Singer, a clinical psychologist in Laguna Hills, Calif. It often suggests a lack of trust about another aspect of the relationship, he adds.
Singer does, however, suggest setting aside money for certain costs, such as those related to children from previous marriages, in a separate fund. It might be easier—both logistically and psychologically—to pay those costs out of a separate account that's funded once a year instead of doling them out from joint accounts each month, he says.
Cotter is now working with her lawyer on a prenuptial agreement, to lay out how her and her new husband's separate accounts will work. Says Cotter, "The lesson I've learned is whether I am single or whether I am married, I still need to take care of me and not expect anyone else to take care of me."