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Understanding the benefits of preparing a prenuptial agreement

Premarital agreements, or prenuptial agreements, sometimes carry a negative stereotype. In reality, prenuptial agreements can serve as a benefit to couples entering a marriage. Without a prenuptial agreement, if the couple divorces at some point, property division and other important concerns may not be easily resolved. If the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement, state law, equitable division rules and courts may determine how divorce-related issues, such as property division and alimony, are resolved between the couple.

Because of the important nature of prenuptial agreements, it can be useful for the soon-to-be spouses to each consider their own thoughts concerning a variety of issues that may be included in a prenuptial agreement. A good place to begin is to complete a thorough list of all assets and debts. The classification of certain types of property and how property will be divided based on those classifications, in the event of a divorce, is also important for the couple to determine. There are generally two broad categories of property, separate and marital, for couples entering a marriage to be familiar with and understand.

Financial philosophies, as well as some values-related considerations, may also inform couples when it comes to premarital agreements. Couples may wish to discuss how monetary versus nonmonetary contributions, such as child raising and caring for the home, are viewed by each of the soon-to-be spouses. Along those lines, alimony, or spousal support ,considerations can also be provided for in a premarital agreement and there are a variety of important considerations related to alimony for the couple to review and decide upon.

There are a variety of common concerns and considerations that can be included in a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements allow couples to determine for themselves how a variety of concerns, from property division to alimony to other important considerations, will be determined in the event of divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also have broader implications related to circumstances of death and disability. Because of the variety of functions, and requirements associated with a valid prenuptial agreement, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the value prenuptial agreements can provide to a couples entering marriage.

Source: American Bar Association, "Premarital Agreement Issues Checklist," Diana Mercer, March 2012

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