While statistics show a falling divorce rate, 10 percent of new marriages still end in divorce within the first five years, and almost 25 percent never see a tenth wedding anniversary. Such statistics may encourage Illinois couples to carefully plan before they tie the knot, just in case things don’t work out later on. Thinking about divorce before even getting married may not be the most attractive activity, but with the current rate of divorce, for many people such considerations are an important step.

A prenuptial agreement may be a good idea for some couples, especially those who are getting married a second time or for people who have high-value assets. There are ways for couples to protect themselves prior to walking down the aisle. For instance, openly discussing attitudes about finances, debt and credit can open the lines of communication and help a couple avoid surprises down the road. Documenting these discussions in a prenuptial agreement is a wise and careful provision.

If a divorce occurs, the property division process could get heated, so it might be sensible to make a copy of any documentation that proves an asset was acquired before the wedding. These assets could include savings, retirement and brokerage accounts, as well as any other assets one might have. Property claimed as premarital may have to be kept separate during a marriage to retain that status should a divorce occur. And even if the assets were kept separate the entire period of a marriage, proof of such will still be required if divorce proceedings get underway.

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond one’s control, a strong marriage may ultimately end in divorce. Ensuring that accurate and timely records are kept, and that assets are appropriately separated, can prove immensely helpful in the property division process. Even without a prenuptial agreement, it is still possible to achieve a divorce settlement that keeps premarital property outside of the equation and fairly resolves other property division issues.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Easing the Sting of Divorce,” Karen Blumenthal, June 15, 2012