Relationship Advice from a Divorce Attorney: Part Two
Part Two of my 3-part series on Relationship Advice from a Divorce Attorney deals with the topic of MONEY.
Don’t be afraid to talk about money. Period. If you are too afraid to talk about finances or if you haven’t had an honest conversation about how you intend to blend your finances after marriage, then you aren’t ready to get married.
Be on the same page about spending. It is difficult when one spouse is buying luxury items, maybe because he or she is accustomed to doing so before the marriage, and the other spouse disagrees with the level of spending. It’s best to “clear” major purchases with your spouse and refrain from keeping “secret” purchases to avoid arguments after-the-fact.
Keep some money separate. The “experts” I polled (my divorce attorney colleagues) were divided on this. Some folks think that it’s a good idea to keep at least one credit card and one checking account in your own name; others vouch for the total transparency approach (see “Honesty” in Part One of this series). I personally think that having the safety net of some cash in your own separate account is something everyone should have.
Shared access. Both of you should have access to all joint accounts, know all passwords, and frequently check in on what is being spent (and where), and keep track of your savings. Don’t allow yourself to become one of those clients who comes to the office with NO knowledge of the marital finances because “he (or she) always did all of that.” Having to subpoena records in order to piece together the financial history of your marriage makes our job more difficult and not having open financial records breed distrust and problems.
Money well spent. If domestic chores are an issue and you can afford it, hire someone to help out around the house and/or garden.