Marilyn Barrett’s Womens’ 10 Biggest Legal MIstakes and How To Avoid Them: Marriage and Divorce

Marilyn Barrett practices law in a Los Angeles, California firm as a tax and business attorney. Her no-nonsense approach to ten of the most common financial mistakes women (and some men) make is very interesting and educational. She takes some of the most complex family law issues and translates them into easy-to-understand language; and I hope you find her book, Just Sign Here Honey, to be as helpful as I did.


1. Signing Documents You Don’t Read or Understand

The first chapter deals with issues that I always thought were common sense. She uses examples of famous people, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; and non-famous people, and how they were too trusting to address the issues of: Don’t Sign Legal Documents Before You Read and Understand Them; Don’t Sign Documents Until Your Lawyer Reviews Them; Don’t Sign Blank Documents; Don’t Sign For Loans You Don’t Want To Be Liable For; and Never(or Almost Never) Deed Your Interest in Your Home To Your Husband.

2.Failing to Protect Yourself in a Prenuptial Agreement

I always thought prenuptial agreements were for the rich or for the very untrusting. I can understand, after reading this chapter, why so many people are using prenuptial agreements to protect their assets. Marilyn defines what a prenuptial agreement is; what should be included in a prenuptial agreements; reading and understanding the prenuptial; and taking the emotion out of negotiating a prenuptial agreement.

3. Failing To Protect Yourself and Your Children in Marriage

Marilyn outlines in this chapter that a wife is just as liable as a husband when it comes to splitting up marital assets, and being responsible for bills incurred during a marriage. She isn’t just talking about divorce, but also what can happen when a spouse dies and leaves a trail of debt. Some of the topics she includes in this chapter are: Keeping Your Separate Property Separate; Understanding Your Husband’s Job or Business; Being Insured; Liability for Debts; and a wonderful section on Domestic Violence.

4. Failing To Protect Yourself and Your Children in Divorce

This chapter really interested me since I have been going through a divorce. The areas that one should watch out and prepare for are: Hire Your Own Divorce Lawyer/Other Advisors(My ex tried to get me not to); Take Off The Rose colored Glasses, or see things how they really are in your situation; Know what You and Your Husband Own(This can be very surprising); How Much Should You Get?; Forget About Fair. I felt this chapter was one of the most important in the book because it gave me an honest, preliminary look at what could happen in divorce.

5. Starting A Business

Many people, myself included, dream of opening their own business. In this short chapter the author talks about what it takes to start and run a business with topics such as: Are You An Entrepreneur?; How Much Capital Do You Need?; including a section on Limited Liability Entities.

6. Running Your Business

I think Marilyn gives practical advice on running your business. She presents topics such as: Try to Learn the Government Rules that Affect Your Business; Paying Payroll Taxes; Paying Sales Taxes; Learning Labor Laws and having a home office.

7. Neglecting The Tax Man

In this chapter it gives a lot of good information on taxes like: filing joint taxes with care; Reporting All Your Income; Filing Taxes on Time; and carefully reviewing you tax return.

8. Failing To Protect Legal Title To Your Property

Many people buy property jointly: spouses, siblings, children and parents, but it isn’t always a good idea to jointly buy property; and if you do, it is very wise to check all contracts and deeds to make sure you do in fact own the property as Marilyn talks about in this chapter.

9. Failing To Plan For Your Death Or Incapacity

This is an area which many people, myself included, fail to properly plan for. One of the areas that is neglected is having sufficient insurance. Another is Making Out A Will or Trust; because if you don’t someone else will decide what will happen to your estate. That often includes a family fight over what is going to happen with the deceased person’s assets( this happened to me when a family member wanted to leave me her assets.)

10. Failing to Hire(and when appropriate) Fire Lawyers

I found this to be an intriguing chapter since it is written by an attorney, but it answers questions like: How to Hire a Lawyer and Do It Right; Hire The Lawyer Who fits Your Needs and Works With You; What to do if you hire the wrong attorney; and Negotiating fees.

Marilyn Barrett ends the book with some of her experiences of traveling across the country giving seminars to women. She encourages women of all walks of life to take charge of their financial situations. For me, she listed some issues to ask my attorney I hadn’t thought of before; and gave me insight into legal matters that I can file away for future reference. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about how seemingly simple issues can become complex cases.

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