It is not uncommon for married couples in North Carolina to have disparate incomes or to divide financial duties in an unequal manner. However, having less financial knowledge or scrutiny can adversely affect the spouse who plays a smaller role in the couple’s finances in the event of divorce.
When a couple is facing the end of a marriage, the spouse with less knowledge of the couple’s finances is in a position of disadvantage. He or she may not know which accounts the couple has, which assets are in his or her own name, which assets are in the other spouse’s names and how much debt has been accumulated. It may be more difficult to acquire this information after a divorce action is filed.
As a preemptive measure, couples can guard against this imbalance of power by taking joint responsibility for the household finances. Both spouses should be able to independently pay bills, budget, save for retirement and evaluate financial decisions. When both spouses are able to complete these activities, they are both able to minimize the financial risks and impact of divorce or even death. Spouses can also evaluate the best retirement investments for their collective benefit, such as considering whether they should invest more in one spouse’s retirement account due to a greater employer contribution or costing less in fees. They should carefully consider which retirement account will yield the highest collective benefit by evaluating more than how much income each spouse earns.
While very few people enter a marriage thinking that it will fall apart, it is prudent for them to take steps to protect their finances in the event that it does. By so doing, they might be able to negotiate a more favorable divorce settlement agreement with the assistance of their attorneys.