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On prenups, and the ways in which they can help couples

It used to be that even mentioning prenuptial agreements was a no-no. These contracts were so taboo because the implication was that you were thinking about divorce before you even walked down the aisle. This “anti-love” stigma has stayed with prenuptial agreements for a long time — but that stigma is starting to break.

Prenuptial agreements are much more commonplace today, and despite their rare use many decades ago, they have always been vital contracts that can take some of the confusion and anger out of a divorce. When a couple files for divorce, there are basic rules that apply to their divorce (such as who gets what piece of property, and how certain assets or debts are divided). A prenup establishes new rules that supersede these basic ones, giving the divorcing couple a customized divorce process that better fits their situation.

Now, even with this in mind, you should still approach the prenup matter with caution. It is a delicate conversation to have, and you will want to plan and organize your thoughts before talking about it.

The prenup is especially important for people with significant assets — but it can help regardless of income, inheritance or assets. For example, a prenup can outline who will be a “stay at home” parent (if the couple wants a “stay at home” parent) if they have kids. It can also outline how past debts (like credit card debt or student loans) are divided between the two couples.

Ultimately, think of these prenuptial agreements as an opportunity to discuss some thorny (but important) issues that are inherent to marriage and divorce. Even if you decide not to get a prenup, fear not — a postnuptial agreement can function in similar ways.

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