The causes for divorce are many, but one of the primary reasons couples in Alabama get divorced is due to issues surrounding money. Whether it's poor financial planning, excessive spending by one or both spouses or simply constant disagreement over household financial priorities, money can be the bane of a marital relationship. A surprisingly large percentage of people who become legally separated, as well as those who actually go through divorce, will tell you that money was the culprit.
As a Birmingham family law and divorce attorney, I'll add that it's not just money, but the lack of communication about money that trips people up. A good marriage thrives on communication. Lack of communication hardly ever helps a relationship survive and often leads to divorce.
A recent New York Times article addressed this subject. There are several things to keep in mind when approaching the subject of household finances. Whether you're living together and planning to get married, or married already, these pointers may make the difference in whether or not your future together will be relatively smooth going or rocky from the start.
Money: Topics of Conversation
- Explore with your partner each other's background as it applies to financial education. Did your parents teach you about money and personal finances? And what is your “financial philosophy”?
- Talk about credit. Does each person know his or her credit score? Be honest about why your score may be low or how it could be improved. How can your credit scores and credit history affect your future as a married couple? Will they affect your goals?
- Discuss who will take the lead in handling the family finances. Who handles it now? And who will decide how much each person can spend in order to maintain a positive cash flow for the family?
- Talk about where you want to be financially in five years. Where do you want to be in 10 or 20 years? And what are your individual goals for retirement?
Marital Finances: For Richer, For Poorer
It's hard to get through modern life these days without money, but when two people commit legally to each other, as with a marriage, each other's finances become tied together, legally. A couple looking toward marriage should consider how the future combining of that pool of savings, income and finances will affect their life together. It can make for a smooth transition to a happy and growing marital relationship.
As a divorce lawyer in Alabama, I've seen the result of poor financial planning and bad money management and how these can negatively impact a marriage. Love may be the reason you got together, but money can be your undoing. My advice is to be open and talk about each other's wants and needs. You may find that it's liberating and takes the guesswork out of planning for your happy future together.
Money Talks to Have Before Marriage, NYTimes.com, October 23, 2009