I’ve written about the legal issues you should consider when preparing to separate from your significant other, and this post will concentrate on how to coordinate your affairs and look out for your interests whether or not you’re the one petitioning for divorce.
Here are some top tips if you’re considering divorce or preparing for that eventuality:
1. If you don’t have a pre-nup in place, consider getting a post-nup. This is an agreement that works in the same way but, as the name suggests, is brokered after the marriage. It’s a great option if you’re not quite sure whether or not the marriage can be saved, but you want to clarify where you stand should things go definitively south. This is not a Marital Settlement Agreement which are considered when parties are about to separate or have already separated.
2. Keep good paper records of where money is going. That includes gifts and borrowing money from friends or business associates. Also consider making detailed notes of board meetings at work so that, if called upon, you can discuss your work prospects honestly.
3. Be careful about privacy. Make sure your wife can’t access your emails — especially if you’re receiving legal advice — and don’t leave confidential documents lying around. This may come as a surprise, but spouses are entitled to privacy within their marriage and it is illegal for one party to access the other’s documents that are hidden away. However, if the spouse sees a paper lying around or in a unlocked draw or a computer with no password (or known password) those privacy rights are limited. To avoid ‘honest mistakes’ and misunderstandings, it’s a good idea to mark out your “territory” by having your own files, or even a safe, where you keep such confidential documents. That way it will be easier to know if any privacy has been breached.
4. Avoid taking big steps in your business development, at least while things are uncertain as regards your marriage. For instance, delay loan applications or investments where you will be tempted to “talk-up” your commercial prospects; this could end up being used against you when it comes to financial disclosure during a divorce.