How to remain financially independent during and after marriage

Since many men and women in Manhattan and throughout New York City come into a marriage with significant assets, it's a good idea for these couples to lay out their individual finances in a prenuptial agreement. Security, clarity and peace of mind are all benefits of a prenup, and some people may even want to draft a postnuptial agreement just to be sure.

A recent article in Forbes describes a different way of ensuring that a spouse has monetary reserves for the long run. This way is certainly not for everyone, but everyone's marriage is different. In particular, some spouses may want to maintain a fund that the other spouse doesn't know about.

Keep in mind, though, that this is not the same thing as hiding assets in a divorce, which is illegal. A fund that your spouse doesn't know about may just be a way for you to ensure your financial independence, no matter what.

A secret fund may still be considered as marital property, however, which means it could end up being divided in a divorce settlement. But if your money is yours and yours alone, your undisclosed fund would not have to be tapped, and you could use it for whatever you want. It is a bad idea, though, to fund secret vacations or an affair with marital property, since that kind of spending could result in a charge of dissipating marital assets.

When a married couple decides to divorce, the goal, ideally, is approach the situation ethically. That includes honestly reporting marital assets on the financial affidavit. This can be a complex task in a divorce with high assets, especially if one spouse is unaware of the family's finances. A prenuptial agreement can help to foresee and preclude disputes in the future, as well as give the spouses peace of mind about where they stand financially.

Source: Forbes, "Pros And Cons Of Keeping A Secret Fund In Case You Divorce," Jeff Landers, Feb. 14, 2013

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