Nobody gets married planning to get divorced. However, the unfortunate facts are that over 50% of first marriages do end in a divorce, and over 70% of second marriages do. It’s our wishes that your marriage not fall in those statistics, however, it would be foolish to not plan for the eventuality in case circumstances do go that way.
We consulted with family law expert Craig Cherney to get some professional advice on the subject, and he mentioned a few key points for people to follow to get the smoothest, quickest, cheapest and most amicable divorce possible.
Get A Prenuptial Agreement:
This is advice given over and over to a lot of people who unfortunately should take it and don’t. It can’t be reiterated often enough. Pre-nuptial agreements work the way they are intended the vast majority of the time, and can simplify things incredibly down the road during divorce proceedings. And they are not expensive or difficult to draw up at all. This is a classic “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” scenario here. Let it be known.
Filing first in a divorce seems like a triviality, but in reality it has various strong benefits associated with it. By filing first, you can affect the choice of venue, selection of the judge, and even in the presentation of evidence, should it come down to an actual trial. So as you can see, this is not a trivial or unimportant matter at all. Naturally, it’s in no party’s best interest to wind up in a full-blown trial with all the rigors of litigation, and this is something to try to avoid at all costs, but it is possibly an unavoidable scenario in some circumstances, and it’s important to be prepared for it.
Go For 50/50 Custody:
There are many reasons for this, but the chief reason is that this is the great paperwork reducer in any divorce case. And as far as reducing paperwork, it’s a gift that keeps giving. With 50/50 custody, either parent can take a trip to anywhere on Earth with any of their joint children without the need for any other additional paperwork, for example. And even more importantly, either of the parents’ signatures will be valid in the event of a medical emergency. Even for less serious matters, like signing a permission slip from school, the convenience of having both signatures carry the same legal weight is invaluable.
Be honest with each other
Preparing for the worst isn’t dooming the marriage to failure – it is simply protecting both parties in case the worst happens. So, sit down with your spouse-to-be and chat about the whole situation. Pre-nuptials may seem extreme and somewhat pessimistic as do many of the other measures discussed but it is an important part of protecting both of you into the unknown future.
Divorce-proof your company
When you have a business of any size, started before the marriage or during it, it is important to protect that business in the event of a divorce because these measures can’t be used once divorce proceeding has begun. Otherwise, if the worst does happen, you could find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having your ex as your business partner or having to sell your company to give them their share.
Tips to help avoid this include keeping family and business finances separate and using good record keeping to show this. Pay yourself a good salary as if you don’t, a lawyer might argue that your spouse is due more of the company’s assets. So rather than paying yourself $80,000 and saving for retirement, pay yourself $300,000 and find other ways to prepare.
Keep property separate
If you have property that is marital or community property and other property that is just yours, make sure you keep these very separate. This means separate funds should not transfer between them and funds earned after marriage should not be transferred to the separate property accounts. This will probably mean opening new accounts after marriage to hand marital property.
Also, be careful not to use funds from one to purchase things for the other. Income earned after marriage should not be used to pay for things like student loans or any sperate property upkeep. This helps keep the two separate and ensure they remain so if there was ever a divorce. Again, good record keeping is also very important.