Ask the Love Lawyer

Please submit your question to the Love Lawyer and check back to see if your question has been answered. Additionally, check out the following social media platforms (put links here) as the Love Lawyer frequently posts answers to viewer questions. Below are some questions that have been answered. You can also search by subject matter as well. Thank you!”

Topic: Divorce

Deanne H.,Toms River, NJ::

I have been married for over 20 years and have two young children. I am very unhappy and have just returned back to work now that my kids are school age. What should I have in place prior to filing for divorce? My husband and I do own a home and I cannot afford the payment alone, but may be able to handle it with child support. But I do not want to depend on it. I do fear my husband’s reaction once I do file for divorce. I want to know what I can do to be proactive. I do love my husband but he is emotionally problematic—really, just plain crazy—and not worth dying for. I want to get out before my kids or self become harmed.

The Love Lawyer:

Kudos to you for having the intelligence to know that you need a game plan PRIOR to making a decision. Prior to divorce, it is imperative that you see a divorce lawyer who can educate you about your rights, present you with more than one option which may even include marriage counseling, and give you more than one game plan to protect you and your children, both physically and financially. Only after a thorough review of your specific facts can the lawyer then explain what needs to be in place to effectuate your specific goals.

Topic: Always talk to a lawyer. The internet is not your advocate

Toni C., San Diego, CA:

Once a couple works through the emotions of a separation and begins planning the process of divorce, what resources–professional expertise or Internet research–do you recommend on the financial aspects of the divorce? There’s the division of assets, the alimony or child support, retirement plans to divide up–a whole host of “dollar details” to have to work through.

The Love Lawyer:

The Internet is a great starting place, but all too often, people think they are Clarence Darrow just because they read it on the Internet—with disastrous results. If you have a brain, you will enlist trusted professionals and will not assume that all divorce lawyers want you to litigate. At the very minimum, your own accountant and divorce lawyer can make suggestions to provide you with the most beneficial division of assets, apportionment of liabilities and settlement terms for you. Keep in mind, depending upon the classification and nature of the overall estate, it may be necessary to enlist other professionals.

The divorce lawyer may assist with the parameters of due diligence by discovery, explain what each of you are entitled to receive, whether property is marital or non-marital property, the amount of child support and maintenance (formerly known as alimony) and your respective rights. The divorce lawyer may also assess the risk/reward ratio of settlement vs. litigation. For example, the lawyer can evaluate the proposed settlement and provide an opinion as to whether you should give more (or less) money to the spouse in exchange for not litigating the case and consequently saving money in the expenditure of attorneys’ fees.

The accountant can assist in assessing the tax ramifications of paying or receiving maintenance, the return on the value of your settlement if you were to invest any funds received, capital gains, and the overall financial ramifications of the settlement.

Topic: Prenuptial Agreements

Neil, White Plains NY:

I am engaged to be married. All my friends keep telling me I should insist on a prenuptial agreement but I am unsure and do not want to risk losing my fiancée. What do you recommend?

The Love Lawyer:

Test her love. Demand a prenup.

A prenuptial agreement can be written to serve many purposes. You may protect your assets, prevent your hard-earned salary from ending up in her greedy hands, keep your retirement funds and income from being commingled, do estate planning, and avoid spending substantial sums of money when you litigate your divorce action (yes, I said “when” not “if”). Even if all you think you have to protect is your baseball card collection, a prenup will prevent thousands from being spent just to litigate whether the card collection really was your property prior to the marriage. You cannot, however, protect child-related issues in a prenup (see below), or your sanity once you are married. A prenup will also not guarantee that she will eventually succumb to your repeated requests for a threesome with her hot friend.

Anyone who gets married without a prenuptial agreement is a tool. I know, you think prenuptial agreements are only useful when you are The Donald. Wrong! This misconception was probably purposely created by women. Worse yet, you are the insecure guy who thinks she will leave you if you even try to present the issue. Wrong again. The ultimate test is whether she wants to marry you for your money or for love. If you have balls, you will want to find out sooner rather than later (in other words, not after she has retained me and you do not have a prenup). If she leaves you because she won’t sign one, consider yourself blessed and celebrate in Vegas with all the money you would have spent on the wedding.

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