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Getting married? Consider signing a prenuptial agreement first

More than half of all marriages end in divorce. While you may not want to consider that when you're recently engaged, it is impractical to avoid this truth. You and your future spouse may start your marriage with the best intentions, but life has a way of surprising people. Whether you experience job issues or your spouse eventually has an affair, there are a million reasons why your marriage could come to an end in the future.

Creating a prenuptial agreement before you get married can help ensure that you both know what to expect if your marriage does end in divorce.

A prenuptial agreement, while not the most romantic thing in the world, can offer you both peace of mind and protection. Divorces can be ugly, expensive and drawn-out events. Instead of fighting in court over who gets what, you can agree on those terms before getting married. That reduces the risk of marrying someone who only wants your assets. Depending on how you construct your prenuptial agreement, it could also protect you from bad decisions made by your future spouse.

Prenuptial agreements can determine how assets get divided

Typically, prenuptial agreements will explain how you and your future spouse intend to split assets if you divorce. For example, you may state that both spouses will retain their own earnings and split the value of your home, as well as any debts, during a divorce. Other times, your prenuptial agreement may outline timeframes for certain assets. For example, your future spouse may only be eligible for alimony (spousal support) if you were married for at least five years or have had a child together.

Prenuptial agreements can also include protective penalty clauses. If you or your spouse engage in an extramarital affair, for example, your prenuptial agreement can place a financial penalty on that decision. Whether it's a percentage of the marital assets, a flat amount of money or even the potential for spousal support, these penalties can help deter cheating and infidelity. Similarly, you can include penalties for substance abuse, gambling or physical or emotional abuse. Your prenuptial agreement can include clauses that are fair and reasonable to both you and your future spouse, protecting you both.

An attorney can help design a sound prenuptial agreement

Certain conditions need to be met for the state of Connecticut to uphold a prenuptial agreement. For example, your prenuptial agreement cannot undo either spouse's legal obligation to support and care for any children that result from your marriage. An experienced family law and divorce attorney can help ensure that your prenuptial agreement meets all state requirements and offers adequate protection for both of you.

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Nancy Noyes Engelman, Noyes & Rubin, LLP
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New Haven, CT 06510

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