Is There Anything I Can Do Before I Get Married to Better Protect Myself?
Given that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, it arguably makes sense for couples to contribute an equal amount of planning to protect themselves in case of divorce as they do to wedding and honeymoon planning—specifically, before they say “I do.” This not only means devoting a significant amount of time and attention to crafting the right prenuptial agreement for you and your soon-to-be spouse, but also seriously considering consulting a financial advisor or CPA so as to plan your financial future.
Indeed, according to research, financial issues are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. Therefore, sitting down and having this money talk helps ensure that a couple sets off on their economic future on the right foot.
Keeping Separate Property Separate: Recordkeeping & Commingling
Take, for example, the importance of keeping certain assets as separate property as you enter marriage. Providing the documentation necessary to do this – without the proper planning before and during the process – can be extremely difficult, especially since banks and other financial institutions are only required to keep this type of documentation around for seven years. And yet, this is no minor issue; when we talk about separate property, we are not simply talking about a piece of property or a family heirloom, but also, for example, a $20 million brokerage account. The ability to plan for and keep records essentially becomes a multimillion dollar deal “maker or breaker.”
And unfortunately, recordkeeping also isn’t enough: In order to preserve property as separate and not subject to equitable distribution, you also cannot commingle funds. This does not just mean keeping the title to your property in your name alone, but also ensuring that you do not, for example, use marital funds to fund, maintain, or otherwise contribute to, invest in, or use to grow your property. One basic step that helps keep these important boundaries in place involves a couple opening a new account for marital funds when they get married for this reason. You should even be careful about actively managing a separate account during your marriage, as this could also make it subject to equitable distribution upon divorce.
Always Stay Involved & Aware
Both spouses should also always be actively involved in the family finances so that both are constantly aware of what is happening with accounts and property and ensure that personal property is not being spent or hidden.
A Prenuptial Agreement Is a Must
Finally, the need to establish a prenuptial agreement is obvious—not only when one party entering the marriage has substantial assets—but for a variety of other circumstances; for example, if someone is concerned about any copyright claims with respect to their work, or even guardianship of their pets.
Contact Our Florida Family Law Attorneys to Find Out More
For any assistance in preparing and planning for divorce and/or protecting yourself in the instance of divorce here in Florida, contact our experienced Orlando divorce attorneys at Arwani Law Firm, PLLC to find out how we can be of assistance.