I’ve been getting some very strong reminders lately about the importance of planning. Very strong.
The main reminder I have been getting is that if you don’t plan adequately for certain stuff in life, things can go very wrong, On the flip side, by doing just a little work upfront, life can go so much more smoothly.
One area where I don’t think enough planning is being done is when people decide to get married. Oh there is wedding planning happening, but it seems to me that there is not enough marriage planning happening.
What is the indication of this? Well, I think most people who have been through a divorce would agree with me. It is a walk in the park getting married compared to getting divorced. In fact divorce is so hard that some people simply stay in an unhappy marriage. These couples had no escape plan and so simply stay married.
A good analogy is comparing marriage and divorce to credit cards and credit card debt.
Credit cards are easy to get and can be very fun for people that haven’t thought about what happens when their credit card statement arrives in the mail. They get a card and they go shopping. Shopping is fun and exciting and it’s great for the first couple of months. Then reality sets in.
“What? I have to pay this money back? Plus 20%? And if I don’t pay it back, I’m going to owe for 35 years?”
At this point the person in debt is having to do a lot of work to get out of the credit card debt predicament they find themselves in. It sure was easy getting that credit card and getting into debt. It’s not so easy to get out of it.
I find it’s the same with marriage. It sure is easy to get married. It costs $100 for a marriage license. Then all you have to do is find someone to act as a marriage commissioner (I think we paid ours $300) and say the magic words: you are now husband and wife, wife and wife, husband and husband (or whatever the magic words are in your situation).
And you are married.
I hope you did some planning together to figure out what your marriage would look like and even more planning to get back out of it if things start to go wrong.
Because it’s not so simple getting divorced.
Unfortunately you can’t just rip up that $100 marriage certificate.
You need a separation agreement and those can be hard to get. By the time you and your spouse have reached the stage where you have decided to get a divorce, there is a high probability that you are not getting along. It’s hard to come to agreement with someone you are not getting along with. So what to do? Well, you usually have to hire someone to help you such as a lawyer, mediator, counselor, financial planner, accountant, etc. These service providers generally charge considerably more than the marriage commissioner. They are more in the $300 – $500 an hour range and it can take considerable time for them to help you and your spouse come to an agreement.
You could also rely on the courts and simply file for divorce and let the cards fall where they may. You could represent yourself and leave it up to some judge that doesn’t know you decide your future. A risky proposition. Most people won’t chance it and again hire the lawyer to get them out of this predicament. A court divorce generally costs thousands more than a mediated divorce or collaborative divorce.
How do you avoid all this? You plan. You create a marriage agreement between you and your future spouse with the help of a qualified professional before you get married.
Yes, it will cost money and it is not very romantic planning what to do in case of a future divorce.
Look at this way. It will not take nearly as many billable hours to come to a marriage agreement because at this point you and your spouse will be on the same page. After all you are about to be married!
Not on the same page? Having a hard time making that agreement? Then I have to ask, why are you getting married?