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Prenuptial Agreements

What are prenuptial agreements and why do some people believe they are so important?

A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a premarital agreement, is a plan to control how property will be divided in the event of a divorce or death of a spouse. It is a contractual agreement that is either approved, or disapproved, by two persons who are engaged to be married.

Some critics of prenuptial agreements believe that if love is the reason for the marriage, there should be no reason for such a contract. But for those who have lost major assets due to a bitter divorce, the reality of divorce is a real concern, and they learned the hard way that one who loves you today, may hate you tomorrow.

In years past, prenuptial agreements were thought to encourage divorce, and was thought to be a tool for the rich and famous who wanted to protect their interests from those who wanted to marry them, not for love, but simply for the social status, or for their money.

Most people don't fully recognize the legal aspects of marriage until divorce becomes an impending reality, then they realize how much easier it is to get married than it is to get a divorce.

There is actually nothing new about prenuptial agreements. For thousands of years, agreements have been made between soon to be husbands and wives, families, and even countries, over how assets are divided, how family businesses were merged, and how and who would run countries.

In many cases, marriages were arranged by parents to gain control of fortunes, rule countries, and to keep peace between nations, and maintain prosperty.

Marriage creates certain legal rights and obligations for both spouses in regards to each others property, even if the property is owned before the marriage takes place, and when property is acquired during the marriage.

State laws are developed to give judges specific guidelines to follow when determining how property is to be divided in a divorce proceeding. It also gives the judge room for his own interpretation of how your assets are to be divided, thereby giving the courts more control over your assets than you may like.

Laws mandate how property is to be divided if there is a divorce or death, but if there is a prenuptial agreement, certain legal issues concerning money, personal property, real estate, and other investments may be avoided. With a prenuptial agreement, spouses determine beforehand how property should be divided instead of being determined by state laws.

A prenuptial agreement is similar to a will or living trust, in that it spells out, and establishes, the ground rules on future rights and other provisions that are set forth, and agreed to, by the spouses involved before the actual marriage takes place.

Until recently, prenuptial agreements for most people were not enforced by the judicial system because of laws that favored marriage, but since divorces have become so commonplace in modern times, lawmakers have come to understand the usefulness of prenuptial agreements in all segments of society.

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