For the most part, marriage lawyers do not actually get involved in anybody’s marriage. Lawyers tend to get involved either when the marriage is getting started, or when it is ending. A prenuptial agreement can set the ground rules for a successful marriage, and a divorce ends the marriage.
A prenuptial agreement may keep a marriage happy
Going into a marriage most people have very few assets, and it is hard to imagine exactly how their lives will play out. At divorce, marriage laws generally split in half all the assets a couple gains during their marriage. So if a couple buys a house and then pays it off, each partner will be entitled to roughly half the value of the house, for example.
This can get very complicated when large assets from before marriage are involved. For example, if a rich real estate tycoon is getting married and pays off all the debt on several properties while married, it may be hard to establish exactly how much of the tycoon’s value was earned during the marriage. Moreover, the tycoon may feel responsible for all the earnings, and may not want to lose half in the divorce.
A prenuptial agreement is basically a contract that can establish ground rules in these types of scenarios. A couple signs the agreement before their wedding, and it can say things like all earnings of one spouse’s real estate business are the property of just that spouse. The agreement could also say that at divorce the other spouse may only get a certain pre-fixed alimony payment. Not every state will honor these types of agreements, but they can be very helpful in preventing massive disputes at divorce. Some people even think that a good prenuptial agreement can lead to a happy marriage because there is less confusion about what divorce would mean.
A lawyer usually needed for a divorce
For most couples, it is best to involve a marriage lawyer in a divorce. A divorce decree will make a number of important decisions about the life of each spouse, and legal advice can help one spouse from making a terrible mistake. The most common issue being settled at divorce is, of course, the splitting of a couple’s assets. This means that pretty much everything the couple owns is split in half, or on occasion split some other way. Child care issues are also settled at divorce. That includes issues like custody and also child support.
Sometimes a couple will continue to have a good relationship even as they are separating, and they can work together with one lawyer or with no lawyers. A lawyer offers many benefits, though. For one thing, a divorcing spouse needs to know everything he or she can about the finances of the marriage and of the other spouse. Sometimes, one spouse will hide money from the other to avoid having to split that money at divorce. A lawyer can also be very helpful in negotiating child custody. That is an incredibly emotional issue, and a marriage lawyer can stay calm and focus on reaching an agreement.