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Why prenups can be useful

Some Californians are reticent to ask their prospective spouses to sign prenuptial agreements, believing that by doing so they would effectively be planning to later divorce. Others do not have that negative feeling, but instead believe a prenuptial agreement is simply unnecessary for them.

There are several reasons why prenuptial agreements are a good idea for many couples. Considering a prenuptial agreement can be as much about negotiating how finances will be handled during the marriage as it is about protecting the spouses' separate assets. People can use prenuptial agreements to have frank discussions with one another about their financial histories, fully disclosing any individual baggage each has, such as bankruptcies or significant debts. They can then plan how the person who is bringing the debt into the marriage will pay it off. Couples can also include how their ongoing debts will be paid, when they will plan to purchase a house and whether their finances will be kept separate or if joint accounts will be opened.

Prenuptial agreements are also not just important in situations in which one spouse is much wealthier than the other one. They are also a good idea when both spouses have had successful careers and are entering into the marriage with children from prior marriages. Prenuptial agreements are equally important when the prospective spouses are young and just starting out, especially if they have significant college loan debt.

If a couple does have a valid prenuptial agreement in place and then later divorce, courts will generally follow its provisions in the division of assets. In such an event, then other issues may be more easily resolved through a mediated settlement instead of having to go through lengthy litigation. People who are considering entering into one should have separate representation from a family law attorney.

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