Most of us know someone who has gone through a divorce. In many cases, it is often a highly-contested matter, leaving each of the spouses emotionally drained. It can take time before they are ready to enter into another relationship.

But as the time passes, individuals may find someone new. They may fall in love all over again, and decide to get married. However, these individuals need to protect themselves in the event that a marriage does not work out, as divorce is still a possibility no matter how happy the couple may seem.

In highly-contested divorces, many of the disputes often arise over the division of marital property. For those that have been through this process before, they may be entering into a relationship with significantly less assets that their new spouse. If the parties decide to get divorced later in life, this can have a significant impact on one spouse’s ability to retire, and also lead to other issues when it is time to divide the property accumulated during the new marriage.

California is a community property state. This means that any property that was acquired during the marriage needs to be equally divided between the two spouses. This includes any investment income that the parties may have earned during the marriage, any real estate that the couple may have acquired, and also any items purchased with the use of funds accumulated during the marriage.

If the couple has extensive assets, it can be difficult to determine how to divide the property equally. It may be necessary to have financial professionals review business records or bank statements to determine the true value of certain items.

Businesses owned either by the couple or by one of the spouses also can create potential problems. If the business is considered marital property, one spouse may need to buy the other out in order to continue operating the company.

Items excluded from marital property include any income that was earned prior to the marriage, or goods purchased using non-marital funds. It will be necessary to review the source of these funds to determine if the assets truly belong to only one of the parties.

Individuals who are thinking of getting married may consider drafting a prenuptial agreement. These agreements can put in place some provisions that would go into effect should the couple get a divorce. Often, these documents will be discussed during happier times for the couple, and can reduce some of the strain of any potential divorce.

If you have questions about what you need to do to protect yourself in the event of a divorce, speak to a knowledgeable divorce attorney to understand your options. While it may be difficult to think about the end of a relationship, many happy marriages often end in divorce. Those couples who are getting married for the second or third time may have unique concerns that need to be resolved before the marriage.