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Prenuptial agreements can provide peace of mind before marriage

Couples who are about to marry may not want to think about it, but given that the divorce rate over the last few decades has hovered around 50 percent, a marriage could end within just a few years. For this reason, couples may want to consider finding some peace of mind in a prenuptial agreement before marriage rather than enter divorce later with the disposition of properties and assets uncertain.

The recent divorce case of billionaire Harold Hamm and ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm is a good example of how the lack of a prenup can make divorce even more bitter. She was awarded a $1-billion settlement but may appeal, arguing that she is entitled to an even larger share of her husband's fortune, which is estimated to be $18 billion.

Prenuptial agreements developed mainly to protect the assets of wealthy men from alimony in case of divorce. Today, however, many potential wives have lucrative careers and may own considerable property that they want to protect if they divorce. In addition, there is no guarantee that today's high wage earner will not be tomorrow's lower wage earner if and when a couple divorces. For these reasons, any couple about to marry may want to establish the ground rules for property and asset division later. A prenup can also resolve other contentious issues such as alimony.

Drafting a prenuptial agreement is best entrusted to an attorney, but the assistance of a financial planner can be helpful because the matters addressed in a prenup are chiefly financial. If the issue seems to be highly emotional for one or both prospective spouses, it also may be wise to involve a therapist while the agreement is being drafted. To enforce the terms of a prenup, it is highly advisable to consult a family lawyer.

Source: Huffington Post, "Prenuptial Agreement for Peace of Mind and Post-Coital Bliss," Tara Fass, Dec. 15, 2014

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