Finance, the Law, and Relationships

Below is a post I wrote for Hezalia about how women can protect themselves financially in relationships. This information really applies to anyone.

Ladies, it’s time we have a talk. Despite the pay gap women are still burning it up in the work force. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners; more than 11.6 million businesses are owned by women. One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned. 49% of employed women in the United States, including 42% of working women with children, are their family’s main breadwinner. Yet, women still are not legally protecting their finances when it comes to relationships.

Here are few ways to look out for your money and property before marriage, during marriage, and after marriage.

Before Marriage

Times have changed, women are putting off marriage for later in life or actually altogether. Many couples are choosing to live together before marriage or forgo the ceremony and rings and live in no-martial committed relationships.  If you are going to do the later you may want to think about how to protect your assets. Washington does not have common law marriage so that means there is not an automatic presumption of marriage or the rights that come with it. If you have been together long enough to buy a home together or have acquired a fair amount of property together then you will be faced with how to divide those things up in case of a breakup. One way to figure out who gets what and who pays for what is to get a co-habitation agreement. It can lay out what property belongs to who, who pays the bills, and what happens in the case of a breakup.

Let’s say you are you are heading down the aisle. He or she has put a ring on it and the date is set. Have you talked about a prenuptial agreement? Since many women are marrying later in life that often means they have acquired a fair amount of property, whether that is a home or a significant savings or retirement account. Do you have children? You would what to make sure they get your assets and not your ex. A prenup can make sure your property stays with you and yours in case of divorce. It can also be used to make sure you get some sort of financial relief in the case of a divorce. This is important if you are going to be quitting a job to stay home and take care of the family.

During Marriage

If you are already married and missed the prenup no worries; you can get a post-nup. Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements except you get one when you are already married and not before. Since at this point your property may already be considered community you will be deciding how to divide that up and how to divide any new property going forward. Another way to protect your finances during marriage is to simply keep records. Know what your assets are. Know what your spouses’ assets are. Know the debts and liabilities. Make sure you have copies and access to all important documents. Additionally, if there are funds or property you are trying to keep separate then you want to avoid co-mingling.

After Marriage (during divorce)

If your marriage isn’t going to make it and you are now facing divorce there are still ways to legally protect your finances. The first will be to speak with a lawyer. It is important to know your rights and the law. You will also want to revisit your will and when allowed make necessary changes. Additionally, you should have any and all big assets valued so you know their worth.

No matter where you are in your relationship you should be looking at your legal options so you can better protect your finances.

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