How Prenuptial Agreements Work

by Margaret Franson

Are you planning to get married soon? Remember thinking it was going to be a simple affair? Now your simple affair involves 400 people, eight live swans, and a stage manager. Be prepared: The financial side of marriage can also be a lot more complicated than you expect.

The pre-wedding period is a happy time of love and growing commitment. Most engaged couples, of course, believe that their marriage will last “until death do us part.” They certainly don’t want to think about an unhappy ending to their life together.

But with two out of every five marriages resulting in divorce, some questions arise. How would you want your assets, debts, and property handled in the event of a divorce or death? Should one of the spouses receive alimony? A growing number of engaged couples are considering these issues and others before marriage. Some couples decide that the best way to be prepared for any eventuality is to draw up a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a private contract entered into by two parties before a marriage or civil union occurs. It may also be called a premarital agreement, an antenuptial agreement, a marriage contract, or a prenup for short. Its purpose is to settle financial matters in advance in the event of either a divorce or death.

While a prenuptial agreement may seem unromantic, some experts say it’s just smart financial planning. It ensures that your financial matters are handled according to your wishes rather than the state’s decision. However, determining whether a prenup is right for you is a very personal decision that should only come after a serious discussion with your significant other. Should you have that talk? What points should it cover? Read on.

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