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Preparing for a possible divorce

There are a number of ways that people in Pennsylvania can protect their finances in case of divorce or the death of a spouse. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be used to keep finances separate and outline how assets should be divided in case of divorce. While some people might feel that this kind of agreement indicates that the participants are cynical about marriage, some say it's no different than putting on a seat belt in case of an accident.

People need to be careful about mingling separate and jointly owned property. For example, an individual might receive an inheritance, but depositing that inheritance in a joint account could change it from separate property to marital property. People might also want to use funds from separate accounts to pay for property that only belongs to them. Using joint accounts to pay for things such as a mortgage or remodel could result in that real estate being considered jointly owned.

Accurate record-keeping is also important. Future spouses should keep documents relating to inheritances and get businesses and other large assets appraised before getting married.

In a high-asset divorce, property that's difficult to value can lead to delays in the divorce process. For example, appraisers might give significantly different numbers for the value of an art collection. Issues around a business could be even more complex whether one spouse owns or co-owns a business. The spouse who does not own the business might still have a claim on it. One spouse might also be required to pay support to the other after divorce. Spouses who are considering divorce might want to consult an attorney to discuss what the financial outcome of the divorce might be.

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