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Is a prenup right for you?

When people think of prenuptial agreements, they may picture celebrities or millionaires trying to protect their wealth in the event of a divorce. With many Hollywood marriages lasting months or less, it seems to make sense for the wealthy to take steps to ensure their finances survive the break-up of a marriage.

However, prenuptial agreements are not only useful for the rich and famous. There are many circumstances in which it makes sense for normal, everyday people to draw up a prenuptial agreement before they get married.

For example, if one partner is significantly wealthier than the other, a prenup gives both parties a safety net. It makes sure that the spouse with more assets does not lose all of their hard-earned assets during a divorce. And on the flipside, it helps the partner with a more modest income feel safe that they will not be left without resources if the marriage dissolves. Rather than thinking of a prenup as a romance killer, think of it as a way to make sure you and your loved one are taken care of in any event.

A prenup can also be useful if one or both partners plan to start a business after getting married. You may want to shield your business' assets from any property division that occurs as part of a divorce or provide for what will happen to the business itself if you are partners and your marriage falters.

Children from a previous marriage also provide a good incentive to enter into a prenuptial agreement. You may want them to be your primary beneficiaries or set some money aside from them regardless of your marital situation. This helps ensure that if you divorce, your children, not your former spouse, will get those assets.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Any couple, no matter how rich or poor, can benefit from a well-written prenuptial agreement. Consider working with an experienced family law attorney to make sure your financial interests are protected before you tie the knot.

Source: The Age, "In case of heartbreak," Barbara Drury, Jan. 16, 2013

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