We all know the story of the dutiful young maiden who gets whisked away by the prince of her dreams to a beautiful castle to live a life of luxury and charm. But what happens if the prince turns out to be not so charming?
If Cinderella and her prince lived in Idaho, she’s in trouble! Idaho is a community property state, which means that anything acquired during the marriage (both assets and debt) is up for equitable division in the event either of them files for divorce. And anything owned prior to the marriage, or gifted or inherited during the marriage, remains the property of the original owner (with some exceptions of transmutation which is rather complicated for our story today).
That means Cinderella, who came to the marriage with her glass slippers and a couple of field mice, gets to keep them after the divorce. If the prince owned (prior to their marriage) or inherited the castle and any other assets from his father, the king, he gets to keep those assets. Doesn’t Cinderella get anything for her hard work? It depends.
If there is no prenuptial stating otherwise, and Cinderella and her prince purchased things together during the marriage, those items can be equitably divided. If the castle or other separate property (think rental property, businesses, retirement and investment accounts for our modern day purposes) earned income during the marriage, that is also considered community property and is up for equitable division in a divorce.
This oversimplifies the concept of community property and separate property, but these basic “principles” (pun intended) illustrate that we should no longer engage in the Cinderella Syndrome by believing that all our cares will be swept away by the perfect spouse or marriage. This is true for both men and women. Things happen in real life that we do not expect when we are making those wedding plans.
If those things are happening to you, or you’d like to prevent an unhappy ending, we can help. Let us educate you on your rights and what you can do before or during your marriage.