If you recently turned into Wendy Williams: The Movie and the follow-up documentary, Wendy Williams: What A Mess, you likely saw two stories unfold: One that told the tale of a self-made woman who had her heart broken by her husband of twenty-plus years and the other of a woman who found the strength to kick him to the curb and protect her assets to the best of her ability.
It’s bad enough that Kevin Hunter cheated on her for years and eventually produced a child with his long-time mistress, but the thought of him riding off into the sunset with his girlfriend in the wake of the divorce settlement and living happily ever after off of Williams’s dime is even more unsettling. Thankfully, Williams eventually smartened up and gathered a legal team who helped her to retain most of her assets in the divorce. Sure, Hunter left the marriage with his luxury vehicle collection, some money from the home that they owned together in Livingston, New Jersey, and a handsome severance package from Wendy Williams Productions, but things could have been much worse. Williams exited the marriage without having to pay alimony, Hunter’s legal fees, with sole ownership of Wendy Williams Productions, and all of the money from their joint bank account.
While her highly favorable divorce settlement can definitely be attributed to her talented and well-paid legal team, it is also the result of some smart money moves that were taken prior to the breakdown of the couple’s marriage. With all of this talk of divorce and asset protection, you may be wondering how you can safeguard your own coins in the event of a divorce. With that in mind, we spoke to a couple of experts to help you get started.
The most important step is to have knowledge about what the assets are, Rachel Green, attorney-mediator at ReSolutions Mediation & Collaborative Services tells MadameNoire. “Keep your own copies of tax returns. Have ‘financial dates’ with your spouse where you ask questions and have a list of assets.”
Keep anything you inherit in your name
“If you inherit something, keep it in your own name,” Green advises. “I had a client who bought a house and put down two million dollars that she had inherited, but put the house in joint name with her husband. When they divorced, the judge said, ‘You lived there together for 10 years. It’s in your joint names, it’s joint property.’ Had she put it just in her name, she would have at least gotten her two million dollars back.”
Keep your eye on your credit reports
“Make sure you check your credit report,” Green says. “They’re free once per year, and exchange them with your spouse. Make sure that there are no debts being run up that you don’t know about.”
“In my experience, by the time a woman is facing a divorce, it’s too late,” Cheryl Dillon, divorce coach and co-founder of Equitable Mediation Services tells MadameNoire. “In many of the cases I’ve seen, the wife has relied on her husband to manage the household finances — whether that’s paying the bills, saving for retirement, or managing a household budget. More often than not, the women I’ve worked with don’t have any interest in being involved. So the best way a woman can protect her assets in the event of a divorce is to be involved in the household finances from the start. She should pay the bills, sit with her spouse and talk about retirement planning, ask to review quarterly financial statements so she has an understanding of the assets she/they have in savings and for retirement. And she should be an active participant in preparing their taxes. This way she’ll have a good understanding of the comings and goings of her financial matters so if she does find herself facing divorce, she’ll have an excellent idea of what she/the couple owns and owes, and can make smart decisions at that time regarding her financial future.”
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