One in Two Marriages End in Divorce
According to the United States Census Bureau, roughly 50% of all US marriages end in divorce. (California has one of the highest rates for divorce).
If I told you that you had a 1 in 2 chance of dying in a skydiving accident, would you do it? Probably not.
Yet, everyday, people enter into what they call “starter marriages” without knowing what the law is.
Talk To A Family Law Attorney BEFORE Marriage
The first time people call their family lawyers is usually right after they get served with divorce papers. Sad, but true. Learning what family law is AFTER your marriage ends is like buying insurance after the car accident. Too late.
Why Would I Visit a Family Lawyer Before Marriage If I Don’t Need a Prenup?
But why would you jinx yourself by talking to a family lawyer before the wedding? Many good reasons.
Learn Family Law
Do you know what the law is in the state that you are getting married? Is it a community property state? Have you heard of alimony? What is it and is that different than child support?
What about custody? What happens if you have kids? Do you lose custody when you divorce?
Let’s make it complicated. What if you own a property, or several properties? Is it enough to just keep it in your name and never put her on the deed? (The answer is a big NO, it’s not enough).
California is a community property state. Everything acquired after the marriage and before the date of separation is community. This means that if you pay down the mortgage on your pre-existing home with earnings you acquired during marriage, the community acquires an interest in it using a formula called Moore-Marsden equation. So how do you keep it separate?
And oh, what happens if you refinance the mortgage, using community funds to pay off the old loan and to get into a new loan? Is it all community? Do you lose your downpayment? There are so, so many juicy questions and answers that only a reputable family law attorney can answer.
Transmutation and Co-mingling
What does this even mean? Does a quitclaim deed give up right to property?
So you have retirements accounts. What happens to them when you get married?
Credit Cards and Debt
Are you responsible for his credit card charges during the marriage if you guys keep separate accounts? Yes.
What is a prenuptial agreement and what does it govern? By the way, everybody has a prenup. If you don’t pick your own, California grants you a default one.
If you are set on having a prenuptial agreement, good for you. I believe this is a good decision – your family law attorney will explain family law and how to protect yourself in the event of a divorce.
Even if you do not have any intention of entering into a prenuptial agreement, don’t you think it’s a good idea to look before you leap? 50% chance of divorce – may the odds be ever in your favor. Protect yourself. It’s worth a trip to your lawyer’s office and paying for a consult.
Protect Those You Love
If someone dear to you is getting married, I suggest gifting them a 1-hour consult with a reputable family attorney.
Below is an audio file from KROQ’s Stryker and Klein Radio Show where Attorney Kelly Chang discusses consulting divorce attorneys before marriage.