What 20 to 30 Year olds Need to Know before Getting a Divorce
Question: There seems to be more divorces going on in the 20 to 30 year old age group, generally speaking, than 30 to 49 age group. However the 20 to 30 year olds, maybe have less assets, maybe have children, maybe don’t have children. A good question would be for the young professionals, either contemplating an exit strategy, or maybe someone that is finding out from their spouse that they want to get a divorce, what would be advantageous to hiring an experienced lawyer in these situations with the goal being to have the best possible outcome in those situations? Starting with someone that is planning their escape for one reason or another, why would it be a good idea to have an experienced lawyer?
Answer: If you understand that a divorce involves dividing assets and you’re in the 20 to 30 age group it may, if there are children, one of the elements involves custody of the children as well as parenting time then here is what you want to do. There’s generally one spouse who is we’ll call it the financially superior spouse. You want to be able to get your documents together to show I came into the marriage with X because you get a separate property credit for that. In other words, if you come into a marriage, if you think of marriage as an economic partnership, which is what it is in New York, and from the date of your marriage to the date somebody commences a divorce action, everything you earn, everything your spouse earns goes into a marital pot or debt. And that pot gets distributed and the cutoff date for acquiring marital assets is the commencement date of the divorce action.
But if somebody’s coming into the marriage with more assets than the other person and you’ve got to be able to document what you come in with, so its advantageous to hire a lawyer, to start the process of documenting your assets to ensure you’re not comingling assets. In other words, if I have a separate bank account with $100,000 in it because I inherited money from a grandparent that passed away. I get married and because I’m romantic, or because my spouse asks me to, or tells me to, and cries I decide to take this $100,000 and put it in joint names, I may have just given away $50,000.
And that’s a mistake one would avoid if you speak with a lawyer beforehand. Similarly if you’re buying a house, which typically happens in a 20 to 30 year old age group, somebody’s providing the down payment. Again, typically, or maybe not necessarily typically, many times it will be from one spouse or one spouse’s family. And that down payment in today’s world can be very significant.
In order to get credit on a divorce you have to be able to document where those funds came from. If there are children it obviously affects custody. It affects maintenance because the new maintenance statutes are more geared towards redistributing wealth. So if you have, again, if you’re a husband and you have a wife, and she doesn’t work, if you’re planning a divorce, if you’re making an exit strategy, the one thing you want her to do is get a job before you start the divorce action.