A topic often spoken of in hushed tones or that is perceived as taboo is pre-divorce planning. While some spouses do this in an illicit way, such as liquidating and secreting assets, this is not divorce pre-planning a skilled family law attorney may assist you with.1 While pre-divorce planning is tailored to a specific case, this blog talks about three (3) typical areas of consideration to assist you with understanding the benefits of pre-divorce planning in your situation.
Pre-nuptial/Post-Nuptial: Perhaps the most effective pre-divorce planning tool is a pre-nuptial agreement that can cover the disposition of property in the event of a divorce. A pre-nuptial or premarital agreement cannot specify how children of the marriage are addressed, such as with custody and child support matters. Those are always subject to the trial court acting in the children’s best interest and the parties cannot contract away these rights. If you are in a rocky marriage, it may be possible to do a post-nuptial agreement and stay in the marriage. A post-nuptial works effectively the same as a pre-nuptial, presupposing your spouse will sign this agreement.
Copies of documents: While this may sound inconsequential, many spouses spend hours of their time and often have to defer to counsel to obtain copies or originals of passports, tax returns, life insurance policies, appraisals and the like. Gathering and securing the documents in advance can streamline the divorce and save time and money. If you have a business, this is particularly important as the business indicia of ownership is a marital asset. In addition, with pre-divorce planning, there is a number of steps you can take to protect your business or minimize its downside in a divorce proceeding.
Consolidating/streamlining assets: Every seasoned divorce attorney has run into spouses disagreeing just to disagree in the throes of a divorce. So for instance, if the house needs to be sold, but it needs certain updates or repairs, the parties may not agree on the type of updates or contractor to complete the work. Before a divorce is filed, a wise legal consumer does this with the cooperation of his or her spouse or alone. Once a divorce is filed, there may be a host of motions and costs with addressing obvious matters you could deal with before the divorce is filed. It may be as simple as consolidating credit cards and closing unused accounts, to selling the house and downsizing before the divorce. The sticking points you know will be raised by your spouse are the right topic for pre-divorce planning.
Is divorce pre-planning for you? If you have a business or significant wealth and assets, divorce pre-planning is a legal concept and right you should be aware of and consult with knowledgeable counsel about it in advance, perhaps at the first signs of fracture in the marriage—before it is too late and the court decides. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates are routinely involved in a wide array of pre-divorce planning. This blog is written for general educational purposes. It is not legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- Nothing in this blog post should be construed as advocacy for illicit or illegal pre-divorce planning, such as transferring funds into offshore bank accounts.