Divorce can teach asset protection lessons — the hard way

Money may not be the most romantic subject to bring up while dating. Yet a recent story reminders Pennsylvania readers that a premarital discussion about finances, combining assets and the possible benefits of a prenuptial agreement might just save a marriage. At a minimum, having a financial plan at the outset of a marriage might minimize arguments over finances.

The woman in the story recalls that she often paid her own way while dating, and that her boyfriend avoided talking about his finances. However, the subject of money seemed unimportant when compared to happiness the couple had spending time with each other. After just one year of cooking dinners together, camping, taking trips to the beach, or simply lying in the backyard hammock together, they got married.

The financial troubles started just two months into the marriage. The woman’s husband was fired from his job on the suspicion of embezzlement. The woman also discovered that her husband had massive student loan debts, unpaid medical bills, and unpaid credit card bills.

Under Pennsylvania law, debts that one spouse acquired before marriage are typically the sole obligation of that individual. However, it can be common for a spouse to help pay off another spouse’s debts, in the spirit of sharing everything. Sometimes, a spouse may defer his or her education in order to help the other spouse through school. Although a prenuptial agreement may not change such behaviors, a consultation with a family law attorney might at least get all debts out in the open and educate spouses about asset protection options. That way, spouses can enter a marriage better informed, should the need arise.

Source: forbes.com, “How A Divorce Helped Me Take Control Of My Money,” Harriet Klein, June 7, 2013