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Why you should consider a prenuptial agreement

Legal experts agree that prenuptial agreements can be useful for engaged couples, especially in certain situations. Young couples in first marriages, who normally have few assets, may not benefit as much from a prenuptial agreement as those who have accumulated sizable premarital wealth or who have children from a past marriage.

Although dividing assets before a wedding may seem like an early defeat for marriage, many couples realize that all marriages eventually end, either by death of a spouse or divorce. Many couples have become more aware and accepting of creating a financial plan in the event a marriage ends.

Prenuptial agreements can also help eliminate some of the stress that can come with a divorce settlement. Deciding what individuals will retain as personal or business property before vows are exchanged can help clarify the future financial picture for both partners should the marriage end.

Premarital financial agreements can protect future assets as well as any assets that were acquired before a marriage. Because it can be difficult to determine which assets belong to which spouse, some couples find a prenup can be a good way to set clear guidelines about who gets what.

It is important that couples understand that the laws of individual states substantially affect how prenuptial agreements are viewed in courts. Certain states honor the exact contents of premarital pacts more readily than others. However, there is still the possibility that courts will overrule a couple's agreed-upon prenuptial division of property.

Family law specialists state that prenuptial agreements are more likely to be upheld when assets are fully disclosed and fairly distributed. Courts tend to view fairness based on the time a prenuptial agreement is enforced, such as during a divorce proceeding, rather than when it was signed.

If a couple has gotten married but wishes they had created a prenup, contracts signed after the wedding day, known as postnuptial agreements, can serve the same purpose as prenuptial contracts. However, some attorneys believe postnuptial contracts are less likely to be upheld if one partner ever issues a challenge in divorce court. Those considering either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may find it helpful to speak with an experienced Texas family law attorney.

Source: MSNBC, "Signing a prenup in case 'I do' becomes 'I don't'," Robert DiGiacomo, Aug. 24, 2011

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