Divorce is hard enough without the many financial issues it brings. In fact, disagreements about money are one of the leading causes of divorce. This is why it is important to save yourself from future distress by considering certain pre-marriage steps. Having smart family discussions about money and forming legal agreements can not only prevent marital problems but save you from stressful legal arguments in the unfortunate event of a divorce.
1. Prenuptial Agreement
Regardless of how you divide financial responsibilities within a marriage, divorce can raise difficult questions about each spouse’s legal rights and responsibilities. A prenuptial agreement can be a wise choice; by settling all of those issues before they arise. A prenup can limit your debt liability by ensuring that creditors cannot go after you to collect on your spouse’s debts. It can also protect the inheritance rights of your children from a previous relationship, as well as the ownership rights to your business.
It is important to enter a marriage with a solid sense of assets and liabilities- a prenup is not just for the event of divorce, but for full disclosure of financials within a partnership.
Prenups may also set provisions for financial responsibility during the marriage. They can even contain a sunset provision, meaning that conditions in the prenup will expire after a certain length of time.
If you and your spouse eventually part ways, you may not agree on who owns certain property acquired during the marriage. Depending on the state you live in, property acquired during a marriage may be divided up 50-50 during a divorce, or be divided as a judge deems fair, which may not be strictly equal. Establishing which property will be marital or separate should be considered before entering into a marriage, and separate property acquired as a gift or inheritance during a marriage should be carefully documented as such:
“Determining whether property is separate or marital can become a very fact-specific inquiry. Especially in community property states, a judge may presume that all the property in a couple’s possession during their marriage is marital property unless they present evidence to suggest that an asset is separate property.”
3. Children and Estate Planning
You may have already made some estate planning considerations, but they should be reevaluated before marriage. Whether this is your first marriage or your third, it is important to consider how it may legally impact your spouse, as well as your obligations and children from previous relationships. Estate planning will provide you the flexibility to name someone else to oversee the money you leave to your children. If you have remarried, an estate plan can provide support for your surviving spouse, as well as protect your children’s potential inheritance should your surviving spouse remarry.
Before getting married, your will should reflect your desires as they impact your children and those of your new spouse. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a change in your circumstances will make a prior beneficiary designation null and void. Always make beneficiary changes on the correct paperwork specific to the financial institution.
Avoiding financial stress in a marital partnership is vital to protecting your assets and those of your spouse. Taking these measures before entering into a marriage not only simplifies the process of a divorce, but ensures that you and your spouse are on the same page in terms of the division of assets within a marriage. Consulting with a professional before you tie the knot will answer any hypothetical questions you both may have about a possible divorce. Though it may sound like a disheartening way to begin a marriage, it is a practical and mutually beneficial choice for you and your spouse!
As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) Emily Promise is able to guide women through all of the financial implications of a divorce. Join her on Wednesday, August 31st at 12pm for a Live Webinar: Financial Independence: A Divorced Woman’s Guide. Register Today!
Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.