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Best Divorce Protection

By: Jason Markum

Many, if not most of the problems that arise during a divorce between spouses could be avoided with a little preparation. Prenup agreements (or prenuptial agreements as they are more properly called) are just about the best and easiest way for couples to protect themselves during a divorce. There are also postnuptials, but I won’t go into those in this article, you can research those on your own for more information.

The first thing you want to consider is protecting your assets as well as your income. Your prenup agreement should discuss your present assets and income, that goes without saying. But it should also discuss any potential future assets and income you may acquire down the line. It goes without saying that your prenup should be in writing and signed by both the husband and the wife.

It is also very important that both sides have their own legal advice. Do not, I repeat, do not use the same lawyer as your spouse. Many times people have a family lawyer, somebody that has been working with the family for years. Sometimes the new couple will use the family lawyer of the parents of one of the spouses. These are both horrible ideas. Each side should have their own legal representation and their own legal advice because that’s the only way you’re going to get objective advice.

We’ve seen it time and time again when a family lawyer advises both sides and then later the marriage sours. One of the spouses can easily get out of the prenup by arguing that they didn’t understand what they were signing because they didn’t have their own lawyer and the family lawyer that they used was not working for their best interest but rather was working for the interests of one side only… the other side.

So let’s get into the details of the prenup a little more firmly. Any agreement must list specific assets. If you acquire new assets after the prenup has been signed, then you need a new prenup that lists those new assets specifically.

Your prenup should also contain a means of dividing personal property and gifts in the case of divorce. Personal property isn’t usually as valuable as say a house, but it is usually of higher emotional value to one of the spouses. And the last thing you want to have to deal with during a messy divorce is sticky issues around emotional personal property items.

Another item that you want to pay attention to is gifts from parents. Imagine one of your parents dies and leaves you a substantial estate in their Will. Did they mean to leave the gift to both of you, or only to their specific child? This can be a particularly thorny subject to come up during a divorce so you want to make sure that your prenup pays special attention to this area.

Divorces are messy most of the time. But with a proper prenup agreement, hopefully it doesn’t have to be too messy…

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