The following information is provided by attorney Michael Kelly:
We have all heard stories or perhaps have been a support person for our adult children divorcing their spouses.
Many parents, after raising their kids in the best possible manner they know how, and watching them graduate from college, believe that their children’s wedding will be their last financial commitment. However, we have all heard stories of parents financially supporting their children during and after a divorce.
Unfortunately, our adult children’s decision of which spouse they choose is coming back to haunt us financially. It has been my experience after 42 years that parents can protect themselves from the harmful, negative financial consequences of our young adult’s decisions by having clear, frank discussions with our children before they decide whom to marry.
Even after these conversations, our children will most likely decide to marry whomever they want, no matter what we say. It is for this reason I recommend you separate, as much as you can, the ownership title of your assets, so that if your child gets a divorce and they are wiped out financially, you are not held financially responsible.
If you want to be the good, understanding, parent, I would caution you not to reward the nuptials with a large monetary gift or a significant asset until some time has passed. There are no absolutes in this world. Just because they “love each other” in the beginning, does not mean they will stay together. Getting married is just the start of a life together.
There are so many details and variables in relationships. All too often, I have found that we don’t thoroughly understand the concept of responsibility, honor, and commitment when we say “I do.”
As parents, we must have our time to live our lives as well. We will always help our children, even if they make the wrong choices, yet remember, our productive years may be slipping and it will get harder as the years pass to produce active income. Most parents at a certain age rely on passive income. If we have to start bailing our kids out, could you imagine the consequences of looking for a job when we are 70?
We must hold firm in terms of our retirement capital. We should be careful in dipping into our retirement savings. I have had clients that have had three divorces, could you imagine being a parent of this client?