I was driving to my office listening to the car radio. A commercial for Kaiser Permenente came on talking about their focus on preventative medicine.

How we should have regular medical exams, work with their nutritionists and physical therapists or trainers to prevent illness or otherwise catch an illness in it’s early stages. I realized that people need to approach legal matters in a similar way.

At the time that most people get married they are in love and the world is a happy giving place. They think “my partner and I can work through any problems that we will be confronted with.” As a family law attorney I know that is not always the case. The colloquialism “there is a fine line between love and hate” is so true. The best relationship can turn very quickly into events similar to those seen in the movie “The War of the Roses” where a couple angrily destroys their property in an effort to keep it from the other.
The Law imposes duties on both spouses when they marry and may affect or change property ownership.

Take preventative measures. Seek counsel before a problem arises.

I am certified as a family law specialist and charge a reasonable hourly rate. The cost of an hour or so with a family law attorney before you get married could save you a lot of money and heartache. For example: I had a client who was previously married and awarded her house in her divorce. We will call her Wanda. She remarried within a few years to Harold. Harold moved into Wanda’s house and Wanda continued to pay the mortgage on her home from her earnings as she had done prior to their marriage. Harold made little if no contribution to the homes expenses. The couple lived in Wanda’s house for 15 years at which time Wanda came to me wanting a divorce.

Wanda was in shock to learn that although her home had retained its separate property character, the community had gained an interest in the home because she had paid the mortgage principal down with her earnings which became community property when she married Harold. The result was that Wanda had to refinance her house, (which was close to being paid for by that time), to give Harold $50,000.00, which was his share of the community interest gained in the home. Believe me Harold, having contributed nothing to the home, wanted every penny.

I asked Wanda why she didn’t seek the counsel of a family law attorney before marrying Harold. She told me she felt she couldn’t afford it at that time. Folks, if Wanda had been thinking about prevention she could have saved herself $50,000! An hour with an attorney to figure out how to protect Wanda’s separate property and a few more hours to prepare a prenuptial agreement, would have cost her a very small percentage of the amount of money Wanda had to pay to buy Harold out of her home.

Take preventative measures. Seek legal counsel before a problem arises!