Cohabitation-Agreements-400-06854350d-300x200By now, most people understand that a prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is not something that applies only to the rich and famous. In fact, a prenup can save a lot of time, pain and emotional turmoil for any married couple should their marriage end in divorce. But what is a cohabitation agreement and are the two interchangeable?

Cohabitation agreements are contracts between two individuals who are in a romantic relationship and share the same household. These agreements address a variety of financial, personal and family issues and how they should be dealt with in the event the relationship ends. Although they sound very much like a prenup, there are some basic differences between the two. For one thing, a majority of states have laws that pertain specifically to prenuptial agreements; cohabitation agreements, on the other hand, are governed by general contract law.

Two learn more about cohabitation agreements and whether you should consider one, read Money Crashers’ “What Is a Cohabitation Agreement – Why You Need One Before Living Together.”

kids-and-divorce-400-07341790d-300x200Divorce is an emotional, complex process and it can be painful for everyone involved – especially the children. While parents are busy hashing out the terms of their divorce, including finances, asset distribution and custody arrangements, the children are left to deal with a lot of uncertainties as they watch their lives spin out of control.

The husband/wife relationship may be ending, but the parent/child relationship remains intact – and no parent likes to see his or her child suffer. It’s important for both parents to take the time to make the divorce process less traumatic for their children. The article, “33 Important Ways to Prepare Your Child for Divorce,” offers some practical advice for doing this.

wedding-costs-400-04628844d-300x199If your dreams of the perfect wedding include lavish venues, exclusive designer gowns, gourmet food and star-studded entertainment, your marriage could be in trouble before it even starts.

A recent survey found that almost half of those couples who went into debt to finance a lavish wedding eventually considered divorce, citing money as the reason. That’s in sharp contrast to their more frugal counterparts who managed to keep their wedding plans within budget; less than 10% of the couples in this group later considered divorce. Why would the cost of a wedding have any affect on the longevity of the marriage? Read “Couples who go into wedding debt are more likely to consider divorce” to find out.

Parenting-plan-400-04371775d-300x200Raising kids can be a tough job and most couples are thankful they have each other to lean on especially when the more complex issues of child-rearing come up. What happens, though, when those couples split? Divorce throws parenting into a whole new context. Couples who once willingly cooperated for the sake of the family are now fighting to protect their own interests. A well-thought out parenting plan helps couples remain effective parents through this adverse time.

Parenting plans are court-approved agreements negotiated by divorcing spouses and their attorneys, and they involve much more than just which parent has primary physical custody of the children. Your parenting plan needs to address the challenges of your family now living in two homes instead of one, and should cover everything from who the primary decision maker is to how future disputes will be resolved. “Everything Divorced Couples Need to Know About Parenting Plans” outlines the elements that are essential to an effective parenting plan.

financial-documents-400-09093918d-300x225It isn’t unusual in a marriage for one spouse to assume responsibilities for managing the family finances and investments. Hopefully, that spouse has a good handle on the family’s overall financial health; the non-managing spouse, on the other hand, too often is unaware of details that could serve him or her well when catastrophic events like death or incapacity and even divorce disrupt a marriage. While the death or injury of a spouse can come without notice, divorce is usually preceded by signs. When you first notice those signs, it’s time to assess your financial situation so you can make decisions that will lead to your financial security now and in the future.

In her article, “3 Documents Women Investors Need Before a Divorce,” author Leslie Thompson discusses specific documents that can help you accomplish this. Although geared toward women, this advice is beneficial for anyone who’s headed for divorce without a clear understanding of their assets and liabilities.

spousal-support-400-04593246d-300x200Spousal support, or alimony, is intended to make sure one spouse – usually the non-working or lower-earning spouse – is not unfairly impacted financially as a result of divorce. Although it is an important part of the divorce terms, spousal support generally is not decided until late in the divorce proceedings after other matters, such as the distribution of property and assets, have been settled. How much support is awarded, if any, and the terms of payment are determined according to the specific divorce laws of each state.

Spousal support is one of the conditions of divorce that can be modified after the court ruling if circumstances warrant, and can even be terminated early under certain conditions. For a better understanding of the unique considerations that influence spousal support, read “Determining And Collecting Spousal Support in Divorce.”

credit-card-debt-400-04377239d-300x200Marriage is a partnership, therefore, it is not unusual for couples to share both assets and liabilities while they are together, but what happens in a divorce? Usually spouses, with the help of their lawyers, will work to reach agreements for the distribution of property and other assets. The court may intervene if amicable agreements can’t be reached. However, the distribution of debt, particularly credit card debt, is a different story.

Depending on the specific circumstances of a divorce, the court may make determinations on the repayment of debt. For instance, the court may rule one spouse is solely liable for the debt repayment, or it can rule on the percentage of liability each spouse holds for the satisfaction of their debt. That ruling, however, does not negate the original terms of the credit agreement. Because credit cards represent a contractual agreement between card issuer and cardholder (i.e., the person in whose name the card was issued), credit card companies hold the cardholder ultimately responsible for any and all payments due on the card. That holds true even if the charges were made by someone else, such as an authorized card user. If a court rules someone other than the cardholder is responsible for debt repayment, it is up to the cardholder to see that ruling is enforced.

To learn more about divorce and credit card obligations and the recourse you may have, read “This is how credit card debt gets split up in a divorce.”

divorce-rate-400-08345978d-300x200It is commonly stated that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, but is that true? Not exactly, although the media attention given to high-profile celebrity divorces can make it seem that way. The divorce rate, like many other things, runs in trends and can be influenced by societal changes at any given time.

For a look at the history of the ups and downs of the divorce rate read “How the divorce rate has changed over the last 150 years.” It’s interesting to note the cultural issues that may have influenced those changes through the years.

child-support-400-08812515d-300x200Divorce may end your relationship with your spouse, but it does not end your role as a parent, and with that role comes the obligation to support your children in all ways — physically, emotionally and financially.

Depending on the type of custodial agreement you and your ex agree on — or the court deems to be in best interest of your children — one of you may be ordered to make child support payments. Quite often it is the father who is responsible for child support, although in today’s age of two-income families, mothers can easily find themselves in this situation, too. That being said, both parents could benefit from reading “What Dads Need to Know About Child Support” to better understand the process.

atty-meeting-prep-400-04880101d-201x300For many people, the decision to divorce comes after months or even years of assessing their situation and giving careful consideration to all other options. But, no matter how long you have lived with the possibility of divorce, taking that first step to end your marriage is very emotional. Emotions can easily cloud your judgment and prevent you from thinking clearly so, before you meet with your divorce attorney for the very first time, it pays to be prepared.

In order for a divorce attorney to successfully defend your rights in a divorce, he or she must be aware of the facts relating to your situation and have a clear understanding of the marital assets and debts involved. Providing your attorney access to this information from the start can help you avoid delays in your divorce proceedings. For an idea of what kind of documentation would be helpful, read “What To Bring To Your First Appointment.”