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Valentine's Day reminder: Money matters in love, Part 1

The vows recited in a marriage ceremony cover more ground than we all initially give them credit for. Sure, we get that we are promising to love, honor and cherish our spouse. But along with the romantic ideas of love come some pretty important, less-romantic realities.

More than marrying the souls of two people, a marriage marries together our assets - and our debts. The TODAY Show saw this Valentine's Day as the perfect time to remind romantics not to get too wrapped up in the whimsy of love and to balance romance with an understanding of how marriage and divorce affect finances.

In general, when we get married, whatever was our individual property before the union remains separate property if the marriage ends in divorce and it's still in our name. Don't take that general guideline for granted, however, as shades of grey have a tendency of popping up in family law cases.

For example, if a business that you started before the marriage increases in value, sources warn that your spouse can try to claim some of the value as their own. Also, if you own a house and it's in your name, if your spouse worked on it or supported the updates of it that increased its value, he or she could lay claim to some of that in a divorce as well.

We will continue this discussion about divorce and money in the upcoming post. Assets aren't all that's divided when a marriage ends. So is debt. And if you and your spouse are anything like a significant portion of Americans, you've got some debts to settle. Check back Monday to learn more.

Source

TODAY Show: "By my Valentine! Um, what's your credit score," The Associated Press, 10 Feb. 2011

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