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Premarital agreement: Points to remember

Thinking about the possible end of a marriage before the nuptials even begin isn't something that most people want to do. Even though it is unpleasant, taking a moment to devote time to this important -- but often overlooked -- subject this can actually help strengthen your marriage.

A prenuptial agreement protects you and your future spouse in the event the marriage ends. These agreements have to be handled carefully so that you can be sure they are legally enforceable if the time comes to use them. Here are some considerations for premarital agreements:

A balanced agreement

The prenuptial agreement can't obviously favor one person over the other. Courts can throw out prenups that heavily favor one side. You have to be sure that the prenup is fair. Your future spouse needs to look over the agreement and consider the terms. You can't present the agreement on the way to the ceremony and demand he or she sign. This is something else that could lead to it being tossed. Both parties should have their own legal representation that can determine if the prenup is in their best interests.

Protection for assets

The division of assets is the most common reason why people enter into a prenup. You can clearly state who gets what if the marriage ends. You can define which property is defined as marital and which is separate property. This is useful if you have assets and wealth coming into the marriage because it sets up clear lines that dictate what happens to them. You can also use the prenuptial agreement to lay out what will happen with business holdings, which is helpful if you own a business. Another inclusion to think about is any inheritance you've already received or those that you expect to receive in the future.

More than just assets

On top of saying what will happen with assets, you can include other points in your prenuptial agreement. Some people are now including infidelity clauses in these agreements. This could state clear penalties for a person who is found cheating. For example, a person who cheats might lose a portion of his or her divorce settlement or lose the right to walk away with any property at all.

Forbidden inclusions

There are some points that can't be included in a prenuptial agreement. Anything related to child custody or child support can't be included in this contract. This is because the state determines child custody matters based on what is in the child's best interests at the time of the case and child support is determined by a special formula.

It is always best to take the time to ensure that you are handling a prenuptial agreement properly. This can save you considerable headaches if your marriage does end.

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