While many Rhode Island residents headed for marriage could not be further removed mentally from divorce court, some pragmatic individuals consider the possibility of divorce even before marriage. It is commonly accepted that health and life insurance policies are a practical hedge against unwanted circumstances. Those who make early divorce planning a priority simply see it as another type of insurance they hope to never use.
A number of strategies are available to protect assets in the event of a marriage failure, but the most well-known is the prenuptial agreement. Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are essentially contracts in which the parties agree on a divorce settlement that can be triggered by either party deciding to opt out of the marriage. There are specific procedures involved in creating a binding prenuptial agreement that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it is not a one-size-fits-all remedy.
Other possibilities include simply keeping separate financial accounts. Anyone choosing this as an asset protection vehicle must be extremely disciplined in maintaining separation as any co-mingling of funds can result in an account being classified as joint marital property. If one party brings titled or deeded property, such as vehicles or real estate, into the marriage, it may be prudent to refrain from adding his or her spouse's name to ownership papers. Again, care must be taken to maintain separation because if joint assets are used to provide maintenance, upkeep or renovations to individually held property, it could result in that property being later classified as a joint asset subject to division upon divorce. As with all partnerships, accurate record-keeping is essential. Each party should have documentation reflecting the value of any property they bring into the marriage.
Asset protection is a complex and sensitive subject for all parties to a marriage. Consulting a qualified and experienced family law attorney may provide insight and guidance regarding unique strategies to confront this subject and best manage a challenging situation.