Divorce Happens: Be Prepared
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- By Casey Bond
- July 20, 2010
It’s no secret that the institution of marriage is failing in the United States. DivorceRate.org reports the rate will be between 40 and 50 percent of all marriages in the future if trends continue.
Already divorced? Don’t count on a successful do-over. According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce.
Given this data, the fate of your own marriage may be looking bleak. Your love life is not necessarily doomed, but it certainly never hurts to be prepared. Just in case things go south, here’s how to prep your finances so you don’t lose everything in divorce payments.
Find a Good Lawyer
We’ve all heard horror stories of one spouse ending up with the house, business and car, leaving the other with barely a cent to his or her name. Divorce and finances can be a messy legal process and you’ll need an experienced and successful lawyer on your side to make sure things turn out fair for both sides.
It isn’t easy to find such a person when you’re desperate and in a hurry for legal assistance, so you should start your search now. You’ll have plenty of time to find the professional you can trust and foster a solid relationship with should you ever require their services in the future.
Keep Separate Property
Usually, when you get married and start sharing things like bank accounts, your house, car and other assets, the co-owned property is referred to as marital property, or sometimes community property. However, if you don’t want your ex-spouse’s divorce entitlements to include ownership of your personal property, you can choose to keep it for yourself.
Keep in mind, your spouse can only take what’s considered to be legally theirs if you divorce. Maintaining separate property throughout marriage will ensure your stuff is hands-off when it’s over.
Lawyers.com recommends speaking with an attorney to determine whether this type of arrangement would be beneficial to your situation. If you decide to keep property separated, the details can be addressed in a premarital agreement.
Sign a Prenuptual Agreement
USA Today reports that only 3% of people with a spouse or fiance actually have a prenuptual agreement, but nearly a third of single adults say they would want their spouse to sign one. It may not be romantic, but divorce and money go hand in hand and a prenup protects current and future assets you would not want to lose in a divorce battle.
It may seem like a legal document reserved for celebrities and the super-rich, but prenups are gaining recognition as an important personal finance tool. Even finance expert, Suze Orman, encourages every engaged couple to get one in order to protect assets as well as to shield against a spouse secretly running up massive debt and damaging both partners’ credit.
Before you take all the necessary steps to ensure your money is protected if your marriage fails, you should understand that these tips are meant for the glass-is-half-empty types. Marriage is about more than the piece of paper that makes doing taxes easier. There should also be sharing and trust, and your future spouse may not be too thrilled by your apprehension. The choice is yours.