Many years after his first wife died of cancer, Jack, a successful orthopedist in Phoenix, married Kristin. After being alone for so long, Jack was overjoyed to have a new beginning with this intelligent, charming woman.
But Kristin had her own secret plans. She knew she landed a good catch who had worked hard his whole life to build a profitable medical practice. She wanted a chunk of the gold – fast.
At Kristin’s insistence, the couple purchased an expensive new house and a shiny yellow convertible.
They never celebrated an anniversary
Just nine months after their lavish wedding, Jack was astonished when Kristin filed for divorce. They lived in Arizona, which is one of the community property states where the courts generally split all marital assets evenly between the divorcing couple, unless they signed a pre-nuptial agreement (and Jack and Kristin didn’t).
Kristin manipulated her unsuspecting husband by establishing a relationship of trust and ensuring that they lived in the right place at the right time. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Robbery by divorce
After less than a year of marriage, Kristin, who had virtually no money in the bank, legally robbed Jack by divorce. She was entitled to half of the spacious house, her car, and part of Jack’s considerable income that he earned during that period.
Entitlement to his assets
Worse, Kristin genuinely believed she was entitled to the spoils of their brief marriage because, as she herself said, she had “no marketable skills.”
No one understood why Kristin’s own personal failure to become financially independent before she married Jack was a justification for grabbing the fruits of his labor after a millisecond of matrimony.
It was many years before Jack recovered, both financially and emotionally.
I was surprised to hear he married for a third time. I know nothing about his legal arrangements with Wife #3.
Jack is now deceased and I feel it’s inappropriate for me to ask his widow.
Where you live should depend on more than just the weather
Many personal factors help us decide where we pitch our tent and call home. Before you say “I do,” make a mental note that if you pick Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin for your home state, you may be choosing to say “you can have half of my stuff” if you divorce.
The current law in those states generally requires that cash and assets you and your spouse accumulate during your marriage (except for gifts and inheritances) will be divvied up evenly if you later split. And you may also share your marital debts.
Because the law varies in all states, it’s wise to get legal advice from an attorney in your new home state before you settle down or move.
Live in a community property state without losing your shirt
You may be able to avoid the “losers split all” outcome in one of these community property states if you sign a pre-nuptial agreement that overrides the state laws. Consider signing a post-nuptial agreement if you relocate later in your marriage.
Are there more potential gold diggers hanging out in those nine states, just waiting for unsuspecting potential spouses to shack up?
Is it a coincidence that at least one of those states (California) has been a hotbed of Gold Rush activity? Hmmmm.
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