Set your own terms. A prenuptial agreement, post-nup or settlement agreement can be a smart protection, said Kaplowitz, who is also a partner at Blumberg Law Group in Solano Beach, Calif. That can give couples the ability to dictate how assets might be divided in a divorce, even if state law would set a different allocation.
Keep assets separate. "Generally, the things that people bring into the marriage as sole and separate property, remain theirs unless the things are commingled," said Kaplowitz. Once your $10,000 in savings hits the joint checking account, it's "ours" rather than "yours," he said, and if a spouse contributes money to the mortgage on a house titled in just your name, he or she can make a claim on part of its appreciated value.
If it's important to you to keep certain assets yours, carefully consider if and how you merge finances, he said. It might be better to maintain individual checking and savings with a linked joint account.
File fast. If you and your spouse have the option of multiple jurisdictions, which state hears the case may come down to who files for divorce first, said Davis. If each spouse files in a different state, that can lead to a lengthy and expensive court battle as the states determine which will host the actual divorce proceeding.
Weigh a move. If your marriage is on the rocks, it can be smart to assess laws relating to divorce in all states where you have a home, said Davis. It might be to your advantage to move and establish residency in one location … or avoid an interstate move if your spouse proposes it.