You may be a single woman today, but odds are high you will find another partner. In fact, divorced women typically remarry within four to six years, and widows have been known to hook up with a significant other even sooner. For many of you, your new partner will have also been divorced or widowed. You might even meet at a surviving spouses' support group or singles soiree.
When you are ready to move on, though, there are some important money issues to consider. During the time you have been on your own, you have probably worked hard to establish your own financial identity and to learn to manage your money solo. Don't turn back just because you have a new man in your life again. Remember: Marriage is a financial partnership as well as a romantic one.
Start your next relationship on equal financial footing. You cannot risk losing the money you have gotten in a divorce settlement or from an insurance payout.
Before You Move In
If you are moving in together, consider drawing up a list of what belongs to you. Make sure to keep a separate bank account. You may decide to have a joint account devoted to living expenses, but keep your own assets separate. And, as I have said again and again, make sure you don't fall into the credit card trap. Under no circumstances should you allow your new beau to use your credit lines.
Before You Marry
If you are marrying again, it is smart to draw up a prenuptial agreement. With a prenup, you will have clear documentation of the assets each of you is bringing to the partnership. A prenup is particularly important if the man you are marrying has fewer assets than you have.
You will need a lawyer to put the document together. Find one who specializes in matrimonial law. But each of you should hire your own.
You will need to divulge all assets, income and debts. Go for full disclosure, it will save a lot of squabbling down the road. Try to pull together an agreement a few months before your wedding, so no one can claim they were pressured to sign a document at the last minute.
Who needs a prenup? Everyone can benefit from having things clearly spelled out before a second marriage. But you really need one if: you are bringing more than $100,000 in assets to the partnership; you have children; you own your own business or are a partner in a company; you are on a fast track to a high-paying career; or you are paying for your spouse to get an advanced degree.
Talk the Talk
Olivia Mellan, a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C., who specializes in money conflicts and wrote Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationships, says that if you have been married before or lived with a partner in an intimate relationship for quite some time, it is important to talk about money attitudes with your new partner before you marry. Try starting the conversation with the following statements:
- In my last significant relationship, we handled money as follows ...
- We used to fight about ...
- After that experience I vowed that never again would I ...
- Some of the things I learned and value from that experience are ...
"When you share these statements, you avoid getting into heated discussions over loaded issues," Mellan said. And we all know that money is the most loaded issue of all.