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In the journey of life, marriage is often regarded as a cornerstone, a union of love and commitment. However, things don’t always go as planned and amidst the vows and promises lies a complex financial landscape that can profoundly impact the course of a relationship. In this episode of Your Money. Your Mission. We cover all things finance when it comes to marriage, from prenups to navigating divorce to what makes successful couples and where things go wrong, as well as some crazy stories you’re not going to believe. In this episode we are joined by Attorney Susan Hansen, a seasoned expert in collaborative divorce and mediation from the firm Hansen & Hildebrand.

Building a Strong Foundation:

Attorney Hansen, known for her collaborative approach, begins by emphasizing the importance of communication in relationships, particularly before marriage. Drawing from her experience, she suggests that couples should openly discuss topics that often get overlooked, such as prenuptial agreements. Yes, she is actually for prenups. Contrary to common misconceptions, she believes that discussing a prenup doesn't foretell a divorce but rather lays the groundwork for a stronger marital foundation.

Generational Shifts in Communication:

Susan notes a positive trend in the increased openness about financial matters among the younger generation. With a rise in prenuptial agreements, she attributes this shift to factors like delayed marriages, substantial student loans, and a more transparent approach to discussing finances, which is all a good thing long term.

Financial Stress as a Precipitating Factor:

While going over reasons behind divorces, Susan acknowledges that financial stress is a common precipitating factor. However, she emphasizes that divorce is often a result of deeper, long-term communication issues opposed to finances alone. From overall communication gaps, to growing apart over the years, affairs to mental health struggles, she sees these issues as symptoms of underlying problems that need addressing.

Gray Divorces and Collaborative Approaches:

As the episode progresses, Susan sheds light on the growing trend of "gray divorces" – divorces occurring among couples over the age of 50. She highlights the differences in approach, with older couples often prioritizing restructuring their families rather than engaging in destructive legal battles that can cost a fortune. Collaborative approaches involving financial planners and a focus on healthy outcomes become more prevalent in these cases.

The Role of Mediation and Financial Planning:

Susan advocates for mediation as a cost-effective and less adversarial option, bringing in financial planners and other professionals to facilitate a healthier outcome. The emphasis is on education, information, and collaborative decision-making, rather than escalating conflicts (and fees) in a courtroom.

Understanding Options: Prenups, Postnups, and Legal Separation:

Attorney Hansen encourages couples to explore prenuptial agreements regardless of their financial situation, viewing it as a tool for open communication. She also introduces the concept of postnuptial agreements, which can serve as a financial planning tool without necessarily leading to divorce. Additionally, she dispels misconceptions about legal separation, stressing the importance of understanding the distinctions and seeking professional advice.

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