Divorce: Not Ready, but Want to Protect Yourself

This area (Washoe County) was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst. Few of us that purchased homes between 2005-2009 have any equity left. There are 180,000 unemployed people in the State of Nevada.

The stress your family may be facing right now might be contributing to marital discord- financial crisis and divorce go hand in hand. These couples experiencing severe marital problems may wish to physically separate but, given the financial crisis, can’t fathom trying to maintain two separate households right now.

The idea of divorce is being put on the back burner for many for purely financial reasons. A lot of people I have met with lately have been living in separate bedrooms for a long time- waiting out the financial crisis until they can afford to divorce and living unhappily in the meantime. This is both understandable and sad. I’m here to tell you that there are options out there that can alleviate some stress you are experiencing in your marriage and help you plan for the future.

I have been advising my clients in this situation to enter into a post-nuptial agreement to protect each spouse in the unfortunate event that the marriage does ultimately end. A post-nuptial agreement is an agreement entered into between married people after marriage. A post-nuptial agreement is useful for those spouses that are contemplating divorce or separation and provides a way to make necessary financial agreements going forward.

A post-nuptial agreement can actually help couples struggling with financial differences to keep their marriage intact. If you do ultimately divorce a post-nuptial agreement can be submitted to the Court and can eliminate the need to litigate over property division and other financial issues.

There are several things spouses can agree to via a post-nuptial agreement. You can assign certain debts to each spouse. You can use post-nuptial agreements to separate your assets and finances. You can agree who will get the house in the event of divorce. You can specify separate interests in retirement accounts.

You can use a post-nuptial agreement to protect your business and business partners in the event of divorce, so that a divorce does not interfere with the running of the business. In short, the following terms may be included in a post-nuptial agreement:

1. Division of property upon divorce;

2. Characterization of particular items as community or separate property;

3. Ownership of marital residence;

4. Responsibility for certain debts;

5. Financial responsibilities for remainder of marriage;

6. How disputes about the agreement are to be resolved (i.e. through mediation, arbitration or litigation);

7. Who will pay for attorneys fees in the event of litigation;

8. How the business will be dealt with; There are a few things you can’t do. You can’t limit or eliminate a future award for alimony or child support. You can’t set a child custody schedule in advance.

I offer my clients a divorce planning package, which includes a post-nuptial agreement, a guide to the initial steps one should take when considering a divorce and other useful information. The cost of the package depends on the complexities of the finances and the post-nuptial agreement. A simple divorce package starts at $1,500.

Jessica H. Anderson
Divorce Attorney Reno, NV