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Are prenuptial agreements good for marriages?

Beginning your marriage out on the right foot is more complicated than ever these days. Both members of the relationship may have very different ideas about what they want from the marriage and from their partner. Finding meaningful ways to get to the bottom of each person's expectations and needs is both vital to the success of the marriage and often sorely missing.

The fact of the matter is that marriages are often much broader and more intricate than you and your future spouse may believe when you decide to tie the knot. Even if you use premarital counseling to uncover some problem areas ahead of time, there is a whole other realm of practical issues that a counselor may never touch.

While it may seem counterintuitive to conventional wisdom, sitting down with your spouse-to-be and working out a generous and loving prenuptial agreement may be one of the best things you ever do for your marriage.

Many people are raised with the notion that creating a prenuptial agreement is almost the same getting pre-divorced, but this is simply not true. Rather, when done with your partner's best interests in mind, a good prenuptial agreement helps protect your marriage from a host of fears and stresses.

Prenuptial agreements are for people who love each other

Some of the blame for the common misconception that a prenuptial agreement is like a divorce coupon has to do with a fundamental misunderstanding about who and what these agreements protect.

One of the greatest strengths of a prenuptial agreement is the way it can protect members of the relationship from things outside of the relationship, rather than protect one spouse from the other.

For instance, if either you or your future spouse carries a significant amount of personal debt, a prenuptial agreement can protect the other party from personal liability for that debt. This protection does not wait until you divorce, but rather protects your marital property from creditors.

Similarly, you, your partner or both of you may own businesses. A prenuptial agreement that protects your spouse's business is one of the greatest gifts you can give him or her, as well as the customers and employees. In many cases, a business can qualify as marital property, and in the event of divorce, all of the employees, customers and the business itself suffer because of the personal difficulties of the owner.

Another excellent use for a prenuptial agreement is protecting spouses from outside family members who may want to meddle in your business. This is often true when one member of the marriage has significant assets. Unfortunately, when you marry someone, you're marrying his or her entire family. In many cases, the spouses are not the problem, but some other family member who suddenly wants to benefit unfairly from new access to assets.

Finally, a great use of a prenuptial agreement is to protect intellectual property of one spouse or the other. When you marry someone, many of the things that he or she creates are marital property. It is a kind and generous gesture to assure your spouse that no matter what happens in your relationship, the screenplay that he or she has been writing, or great American novel, is not up for grabs — it's all your spouse's.

These are only some of the ways that a good prenuptial agreement builds up marriages to last.

Start your marriage strong, keep your marriage strong

Two of the greatest parts of a caring, generous prenuptial agreement is that it removes many of the fears couples often face when entering marriage, while simultaneously providing you with a framework to discuss important issues you might never get to otherwise.

These matters are incredibly important to a successful marriage, and finding a kind and loving way to sort through them with your partner's best interests in mind is one the best ways to enter into a relationship that goes the distance.

With proper legal counsel from an experienced attorney, you and your future spouse can start off on the right footing, ensuring that each person's rights remain secure.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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