People in Illinois who are going through a divorce may be surprised to learn that their spouse has debt or assets they did not know about. According to a study by Fidelity Investments, 10% of participants found out during the divorce that a spouse had hidden assets, and 14% found out about debt.
One way to prevent this is to remain an active participant in financial decisions within the marriage even if the other spouse mainly handles the money. The Fidelity study found that people who did not know much about the marital finances took the longest time to recover financially. They also tended to regret not being more involved in the joint finances. Both spouses should have an idea about what is in their retirement accounts and tax returns, and they should have a voice in major financial decisions.
People can also protect themselves with a prenuptial agreement. This establishes what property belongs to each person and how they will divide their property if they divorce. If a couple is already married or accumulates more property, they may want to create a postnuptial agreement. This might prevent common issues such as mingling an inheritance or another asset that might otherwise be considered separate property with marital funds.
Divorce is not an easy process, but even if a couple has not prepared a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, they may be able to negotiate an agreement for property division with the assistance of their attorneys. Child custody and support issues cannot be addressed in a prenup and may also be negotiated. Negotiating may be less stressful and expensive than going to court, and it gives couples the opportunity to come up with flexible solutions that work for them and their children. If negotiations are unsuccessful, they may turn to litigation instead.