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What should I include in a prenup?

Prenuptial agreements used to be thought of as only something for the rich, but couples across various socioeconomic levels are increasingly turning to prenups as a way to protect their assets and simplify the property division process in the event of a divorce later on. However, there is also much confusion about what a prenup can legally cover. Understanding what a prenuptial agreement can and cannot do for you is important to creating realistic expectations.

In general, prenuptial agreements can only cover issues with property division. Specific assets can be named as separate property not to be included in the division of the marital property in a divorce, and who is and will be responsible for each debt can also be covered. Prenups can also work in combination with other legal estate planning documents to ensure that specific assets are kept in your family or go to any children from another relationship.

While prenuptial agreements can also detail various financial aspects, such as how the bank accounts will be set up or who will pay for which of the household expenses, they cannot specify any terms of child support. Many states also discourage including any kind of waiver or terms for alimony, as the courts prefer to decide these issues.

Contrary to popular belief, personal, nonfinancial matters cannot be included in a prenup. This includes but is not limited to stipulations on marital duties or which side of the family the couple will spend holidays with. If a prenuptial agreement includes these types of provisions, the whole document could be set aside in court, which is why it is important to have a family law attorney review your prenup before you sign.

Source: FindLaw, "What Can and Cannot be Included in Prenuptial Agreements," accessed June 08, 2015

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