How to Financially Protect Yourself in a Marriage

July 15, 2011  |  

 

First off, I’d like to begin with a disclaimer: Feeling the need to protect your stuff is a sign of fear and distrust. If that’s the case, wealth management is not the real issue.

That said, there are two directions you can go when you don’t trust your husband to handle household finances: Take the lead on bookkeeping, budgeting and spending or start planning for the “just in case.” Finances are behind many divorces.

Marriage is a union of two worlds and spouses are intended to function within the household as a single entity—each with certain responsibilities. While one keeps the cars maintained, the other may oversee the finances. If your husband has proven himself to be fiscally irresponsible or he’s simply too unorganized, the responsibility should be yours. That is, if you are better equipped. Should he take issue with that, launch a campaign to protect. Here’s how:

1. Start a cash stash.
This is the first step in creating a cushion. Purchase a small fireproof safe and hide it in a cluttered closet. Based on your contributions to household bills, add a percentage of all of your income to the pot. What he doesn’t know about he can’t try to take in court.
2. Set up custodial savings accounts for your children.
Custodial savings accounts are managed by the parent who sets it up. Your name should be the only name on the account aside from the child. Since it is a simple savings account, you can make withdrawals without penalty. This way, you have a savings account to work out of that he cannot touch. Another cushion.
3. Set up an offshore account.
Seriously, do it. It may seem cinematic but it’s a way to protect your funds. It would be difficult to track them in the instance of divorce.
4. Draw up a post-nuptial agreement.
This could generate some bad feelings, but it’s a necessary evil when your (could be ex) husband is messing with your money. You don’t need a lawyer, just a document detailing the distribution and ownership of assets and expenses signed by both parties and a notary.

5. Build your assets 50/50.
Contribute to your individual wealth-building as you do to the household. Don’t abandon your husband just keep a potentially single life in mind. Dedicate 50 percent of your time investing in yourself.

 

1. Keep your businesses in your name.
Any business you start and any investments you make should be done in your name and your name only. You don’t want his financial situation to affect your ability to qualify for loans or venture capital in the future.
2. Put all major debts with the exception of your car in his name.
Selling a home these days rarely happens overnight. In the event of a messy divorce you don’t want to be stuck with a mortgage you may or may not be able to afford. As long as you have transportation, you can find somewhere to stay.

Sounds a little ruthless, I know. But these are things you have to think about you when there’s high probability for divorce.

LaShaun Williams is a culture and relationship columnist, blogger and social critic. Her work has been featured on popular urban websites and she has made appearances on several radio shows. Williams is also the voice behind Politically Unapologetic, where she unabashedly discusses pop culture, relationships and everything in between. Follow @itsmelashaun on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.

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