What do you think about first when someone mentions the words "prenup" or "alimony" … ? You probably think that the man is wanting the prenup so he doesn’t have to pay alimony to the woman in the event of a divorce. Right? Well, it is time to rethink this. Women should start thinking about protecting their assets before they get married or even enter into a living arrangement with a man. Why? More and more women are seeing an increase in their income due to owning their own business, working their way up the corporate ladder, etc. In many cases the woman’s income will be more than the man. Women need to start thinking about protecting their assets just like the men have always done.
You may be thinking that no man will ask for alimony – that it will hurt their "manly" pride. Wrong, think again. Men are starting to seek alimony and it just isn’t the rich and famous like Nick Lachey or Elizabeth Taylor’s ex. It is the man who stayed home with the children while the woman went off to work; it is the man who works part-time or who doesn’t make as much as the woman and got used to the finer things that her money helped provide. It could be the man you are planning on marrying or moving in with.
How do you protect your assets? If you plan ahead you can have a prenuptial agreement or living arrangement agreement prepared by your attorney. Be prepared to reveal all of your assets to your attorney and to your soon-to-be spouse. If you don’t reveal all of the assets in the prenup those assets will not be part of the agreement and there could possibly be grounds for fraud and setting aside the whole agreement. If you want to enter into a contract before you live with someone you will need to include whether any or all monies will be combined, how the joint bills are to be paid, how the separate and personal bills will be paid, what will happen to the joint assets should there be a separation or parting of the ways, etc.
What if you are already married but want to protect your assets? PINK magazine, February/March 2007 issue, has listed four things you can do. These include:
- Getting the man back into the workforce before you ask for a divorce or even hint that you are thinking about one. If he is working and earning money on his own, he should not need as much or any support from you;
- Keep all assets that you inherit in your name alone and do not co-mingle them with your spouse. This means you do not put any monies into a joint account with your husband, you do not put his name on any real property, stocks, etc. Do not let your parents or other persons give assets to you and your spouse. Have them just give it to you. In other words, keep the assets totally in your control and name.
- You should build up a nest egg in a separate account under your control only. This way should something happen you will have access to money if you need it.
- You may be able to get your husband to sign a post-nuptial agreement, but don’t count on it. If you ask for one after the marriage you are probably going to be giving up more assets than you would have had you entered into a prenuptial agreement (think along the terms of a divorce settlement on this one.)
Due to tradition a woman may not feel comfortable asking the man in her life to enter into the agreements described above. Women have come a long way in the work force and have worked hard to build up their assets and to provide for themselves and not have to rely upon the man taking care of them. Women want to be treated as equals and are equal to men in this area and they should not hesitate to protect their assets just like the men should not hesitate to protect theirs. Remember – entering into an agreement before the marriage or living arrangement is concluded is the best way to do this.