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To Sign or Not to Sign: Prenuptial Agreements

While most newlyweds are confident that their marriage isn't a sham like the infamous seventy-two day marriage of Kim Kardashian to Kris Humphries, almost half of all marriages end in divorce, just like Kim's did. It might not seem romantic for a couple to enter into a prenuptial agreement before marriage to work out their financial future if they do divorce. But it certainly would seem prudent.

While prenups may differ substantially from couple to couple, there are some issues that all couples should consider addressing in their prenuptial agreements.

Finances

Working out financial issues and beginning a marriage with transparency and effective communication can actually help start the marriage out on the right foot — with honesty, integrity and mutual understanding. Often future spouses come from different financial backgrounds and with different expectations. One or both sides may have sizable debts or assets that they wish to keep separate from their spouse. Or they wish to consciously bring communal property into the marriage.

Even though the law has provisions for the division of property in the event of divorce, the couple may nevertheless wish to make their own provisions that better fit their particular circumstances. New York’s Domestic Relations Law gives couples the power to make decisions in advance regarding wills, property, maintenance and care for the children that either party brings into the marriage.

Career paths

Frequently, both husband and wife will come into a marriage with a set career path. With children and increased familial responsibilities, these paths may eventually conflict. Future spouses may want to determine in advance which path takes precedence and under what conditions.

Religious affiliation

Many diverse couples agree to overcome their religious differences to start a happy and solid marriage. However, over time those differences may combine with other pressures to create friction in a marriage. Couples may choose to determine in advance how they relate to the different expectations of in-laws and extended family, and how they will jointly raise and educate their children.

General lifestyle choices

Building a life together involves many practical steps in addition to mutual love and respect. A couple must eventually decide, for example, where to live, how many children to have and how to educate those children. Values certainly change. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile for every couple to discuss these issues before marriage and potentially outline their shared resolutions in the prenup.

While prenups are often presented in popular culture as a method for one spouse to exclude the other, perhaps they should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen the foundation of marriage by encouraging couples to openly, honestly and preemptively deal with difficult issues. Contact a New York family law attorney for support in arranging this important milestone.

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